Common Myths

Despite countless efforts by antivirus software makers and virus watchdog groups to dispel rumors about the extent of viruses' powers, myths still continue to circulate among the general public as to what these malicious programs can and can't do. According to Rob Rosenberger, who operates the Computer Virus Myths page (, these are a few of the more prominent myths and the reality behind the rumors:

MYTH: Viruses can lurk in non-executable files, E-mail messages, or within a webpage's text.

REALITY: While viruses can hide within attachments to these files, true non-executable files cannot contain a viral program within the file themselves.

MYTH: A few viruses can remain undetected by all antivirus software.

REALITY: The algorithm signature, character-based signature, or another identifiable signature left by all viruses make them vulnerable to some type of detection by antivirus software.

MYTH: If I mistakenly save a virus with my backup files, those files will become worthless.

REALITY: Even if you do back up a virus with your files, you can still restore your valuable data without restoring an infected program. To do this, use your antivirus software to simply disinfect the infected files.

MYTH: Write-protected diskettes are still vulnerable to viral attacks.

REALITY: After diskettes are write-protected, even the diskette drive itself knows when a diskette has a write-protect tab and refuses to write to the diskette. Viruses can't override an IBM PC diskette drive's write-protect sensor with their commands.

The Credibility Of Hoaxes

According to Symantec Corp. (, an antivirus software mantufacturer, warnings about nonexistent viruses and Trojan horses are frequently circulated via E-mail and Usenet postings. Although these warnings contain technical-sounding jargon and claim to originate from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), in reality, the FCC never issues warnings about viruses or Trojan horses. Users should just ignore these false warnings rather than pass them on to others. Below is a list of well-known hoaxes regarding viruses and Trojan horses.

3b Trojan/PKZIP Virus E-Flu NASTYFRIEND99
AIDS Virus FatCat Virus Pandemic
AOL4Free Virus Free Money PenPal Greetings
AOL Year 2000 Update Get More Money Red Alert
Baby New Year Virus Ghost Teletubbies
Bad Times Good Times Time Bomb
Blue Mountain Virus Guts To Say Jesus Tuxissa
BUDDYLST.ZIP Hacky Birthday Virus Very Cool
BUDSAVER.EXE Help Poor Dog Wooden Horse
Budweiser Hitler World Domination
Dear Friends Join the Crew  
Death69 Londhouse Virus  
Deeyenda Millennium Time Bomb