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How can I tell if a computer virus alert is a hoax?

The University Information Security Office (UISO) maintains links for some of the most current virus hoax warning sites. For these and other useful security-related sites, see Email Scams.

Another source for virus hoax information is the Total Defense Malware Encyclopedia.

Two key factors make a successful virus hoax: (1) technical-sounding language and (2) credibility by association. If the warning uses the proper technical jargon, even the technologically savvy can be fooled.

Nevertheless, if a virus alert you receive contains technical-sounding language and comes from a seemingly authoritative source, it may also be a true virus alert; for information, see What should I do if I receive a computer virus alert message via email?

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Last modified on February 25, 2014.

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