May 28 2009

FAQ: How can I reduce the spread of hoax virus alerts in my company?

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First, you can discuss virus hoaxes in your next corporate newsletter. You’ll probably want to write something short, fun, and to the point. Feel free to use this with our compliments:

Which of these things is not like the others?

  1. Win a Holiday computer virus alert
  2. Returned/Unable To Deliver computer virus alert
  3. Join the Crew computer virus alert
  4. Word.Concept computer virus alert
  5. Penpal Greetings computer virus alert

Answer: (4). The Word.Concept virus is real. The rest are hoaxes designed to frighten you. Don’t panic about a virus alert — especially if you receive the alert on April Fool’s Day. Visit http://HoaxBusters.org and http://Vmyths.com for more information about computer virus hoaxes.

If a specific virus hoax plagues your organization, insert it in place of another alert in this list.

Next, ask your CIO to get involved in the fight against hoax virus alerts. Ask your CIO to sign the following notice:

To all employees,

We have experienced another rash of hoax virus alerts spreading around the company. These hoaxes are disguised as “helpful” emails with a warning about a dangerous new computing threat. These emails are hoax chain letters which make the sender look stupid. They waste employee time and spread false information.

Stupid employees may forward hoax alerts with my blessing. If you’re not stupid, and you receive an email warning of any type, forward it to the “Computer Security” email account. Our experts will investigate it and notify you if further action is required.

Questions can be directed to {employee} at extension {phone}. Please visit http://HoaxBusters.org and http://Vmyths.com for more info about computer virus hoaxes. Thank you.

Signed,
The CIO

Sadly, you may need to spam this notice to every employee once a year. Caution: the point of contact will hear from a lot of clueless people. (Trust me on this.) Delegate the task if possible. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!

Finally, teach new employees not to fall for a hoax virus/worm alert. When you plop a computer on a new employee’s desk, configure the browser’s start page for Vmyths.com by default. They’ll change the start page on their own sooner or later anyway, so why not give them a useful lesson in the process?

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