Virus Hoaxes

Virus hoaxes are false virus warnings that circulate over email and are designed to cause alarm or damage.


At best, virus hoaxes waste system resources and cause undue distress. At worst, they can lead to computer damage with their purported "fix": people can be lured into running executable files that are themselves viruses, or deleting important system files that are needed by the computer to operate. Then many unknowingly perpetuate the hoax by forwarding the false warnings to their friends and family.

Spotting a hoax

To follow is a list of some common features of viruses hoaxes. Think twice if you get an email message with a virus warning that:

Verifying whether a warning is a hoax

Refer to the iolo Threat Center ( to verify the validity of a virus or other malicious software.


The Computer Incident Advisory Capability, under the U.S. Department of Energy, also provides virus hoax information at