The Oldest Virus on the Net

When considering a security article for this week I thought it appropriate to shed some light on a virus that has been in the background since the mainstream introduction of the computer into our homes. This virus has eluded all antivirus software and has infected at least 50% of all end users. It is responsible for flooding the Internet with junk email and passes off mistruths as fact. What is the name of this virus you ask? It’s the Gullibility Virus and it only gets tougher to fight as the Internet grows.

The Gullibility Virus usually comes as an email but you can get it from visiting websites as well. It lures in unsuspecting users with unbelievable content such as articles or pictures. It doesn’t need an attachment like your typical virus, and it doesn’t infect your address list or set up an SMTP server to relay messages to infect others. The way this virus propagates is to infect the recipients emotional receptors. The victim becomes susceptible to anything they may read, no matter how far fetched, and they believe it with no reservations. After the end user is infected they lose any ability of critical thinking or to check the validity of things they see. These stories then get forwarded as unbelievable groundbreaking news to friends, family, co-workers, and contacts on the web. You can see that although the virus doesn’t use conventional means to spread, it more than compensates for it in its own ways.

Here’s a testimony from a young man who was infected last year:

“After hearing that humans only use 10% of their brain and the other 90% could be used for psychic powers I spent all my spare time trying to bend spoons and move objects. I could never get anything to happen. I thought to myself, ‘I just need to concentrate harder and it will happen.’ I got frustrated and started looking for some information that may have helped me hone my powers, but instead I ran across an article on the internet describing the different parts of the brain and their functions. I learned that humans (some more than others) use their whole brain, maybe not all at once, but every bit of your brain has a specific purpose and use. Wow! I was floored—to think of all the time and energy I wasted trying to develop psychic powers. What a let down. The Gullibility virus got me good.” (Name witheld)

Like I said earlier, none of the antivirus makers can seem to stop it. The only thing we can do is arm ourselves with the ability to scrutinize what we read online. Before you take outlandish stories and pass them on to friends and family, do a search or two with Google or a site that specializes in Urban legends and see what they have to say about the topic. Learn to question things that don’t seem right, even if everyone is talking about it. Only you can stop the spread of the Gullibility Virus, and I think that it’s something that everyone should be aware of because it’s going to be part of the Internet until the government kills it by taxing email.

And no, putting AAAAA@AAAA or !0000 in your address will not stop this one, or any other virus from spreading.

Stay smart out there,
~ Chad