Hoaxes are reports of false and unsubstantiated claims, in an attempt to trick or defraud users.

A hoax could be an attempt to solicit money, an attempt to install malware, or an attempt to consume bandwidth (by having users forward a hoax email).

Hoaxes in the form of emails do some or all of the following:

  • Warn you that there is an undetectable, highly destructive new piece of malware
  • Ask you to avoid reading emails with a particular subject line, claiming it contains malware 
  • Claim that the warning was issued by a major software company, Internet provider or government agency
  • Claim that the malware can do something improbable
  • Urge you to forward the warning
  • Claim that liking a story or individual on Facebook can result in financial windfalls, charitable contributions and free prizes

Many users forwarding such hoax emails can cause a deluge of email, which may overload mail servers. Hoax messages may also distract from efforts to deal with real malware threats.

The best defense against hoaxes is to educate yourself and your users. It is also helpful to search online for information about suspected hoaxes.

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