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How to recognize an e-mail virus

Question to Ask Yourself Why Ask This Question?
Does the e-mail ask you to re-send the message to several other people? The main thing an e-mail virus does is to clog up the internet with e-mail by replicating.  The way it does this is by having one person send out a message asking that the message get sent out to 10 of your friends.  Those 10 friends each send it to 10 more friends.  After only 6 generations of this, the useless e-mail message has been sent to a million people.  Exponential growth is a sure fire clue of a virus.
Does the e-mail make some wild, unbelievable claim that is so outrageous that it must be true? The only way an e-mail is going to get forwarded on to 10 of your friends is if it makes some claim that you want to pass along.  Keep in mind that sending e-mail will not help you win the lottery or save you from the second coming of the anti-christ.  If you are a real friend, you will not pass these types of e-mail messages of useless information along.
Does the e-mail use a person's or company's name to add credibility to the claims? This message was sent by "Bill Gates"!  It must be true.  NASA reported that ........  they wouldn't lie.  GM announced their new 100 MPG car.

If these people or companies realy had something to say, they would send out a message to their mailing list telling people to come look at the information at their web site.  They would not be sending large amounts of information to thousands of people in an e-mail.
Is 80% of the e-mail message header information from all of the times it has been forwarded already? When the majority of an e-mail is header information and lists of people who the message has been sent, it is a good clue that the message has been around and is already caused network slowdown.  Don't propagate the problem.
Does the e-mail warn of a computer virus being passed via e-mail? If a virus was sent via e-mail, it would only be able to affect one type of computer operating system.  For an e-mail virus to work, it would have to get onto your system and somehow run.  There are many different e-mail programs and operating systems.  For a virus to be affective, it would have to know how to work on all of them.

A virus can be attached to an e-mail and it is up to you to run it. If you are not sure about an attachment, write the person back and ask them if they sent it to you. Better safe than sorry.
Does the person who sent the e-mail have any credibility in the area the e-mail refers to or are they the person who forwards all of the jokes without cleaning up the header information from the message? Who was it that sent the e-mail to you?  Do they know anything about what the e-mail is about?  Are they an expert in the field?  Do they forward every e-mail they get to you anyway?

Double check anything before acting on it. Do not delete something unless you have gotten it from two reliable sources.

If any one of these are true about an e-mail you get, most likely it is an e-mail virus or a Hoax and should be deleted. If you are on good standing with the person who sent it, send them a quick note telling them the message is a Hoax or an e-mail virus and they should not send it anymore.  Feel free to send that person the URL to this Hoax identification page or to one of the sites listed below.

Here are some Links of places to check:

Internet Hoaxes:

Department of Energy Computer Incident Advisory Capability at

Symantec Anti Virus Research Center at

Urban Legends Reference Pages at