Computer Viruses, Worms, Hoaxes, Urban Legends – Resources
(Note: some links may no longer be valid.)
Symantec Corporation, producer of Norton Antivirus software, explains common computer viruses at this site: http://securityresponse.symantec.com/
Another general site on computer viruses is http://antivirus.about.com/
Following are links to a couple of reputable antivirus companies that will scan your PC for free over the Internet. Both require using Microsoft's Internet Explorer rather than the Netscape browser.
You may also go to http://free.avg.com and download their free antivirus software, AVG, to install on your Windows computer.
Spyware and adware are another concern. This is software that monitors and reports on your computer usage, without your explicit consent or even knowledge. (Some degree of tracking is inherent in the Internet and is not a problem; websites gather info on where their visitors come from, when, with what browsers, etc., in order to properly deliver/display web pages. That's not what's being addressed here.) Lavasoft's Ad-aware software is an excellent way to detect and remove spyware and adware; it may be obtained for free home use from http://www.lavasoftusa.com. Spybot Search & Destroy is another excellent tool for this. It's at http://www.spybot.info.
Computer hoaxes are another set of annoyances constantly being sent around, using up computer resources and people's time.
Breakpoint at one point ran a couple of articles cautioning Christians about unwittingly bearing false witness by passing hoaxes along. (The links I had to these are no longer valid – Unfortunately I did not retain copies of the articles.)
One notable longlasting hoax concerns "Petition 2493"; it is a red herring. The original petition dealt with whether Christian radio stations were eligible for non-commercial educational licenses, or only commercial licenses, and was rejected decades ago (August 1, 1975). M.M.O'H. had nothing to do with it either. Some think the continued circulation of this "warning" is intended to make Christians look foolish by complaining about a non-existent issue. Here is the URL at the FCC about this: http://www.fcc.gov/cgb/consumerfacts/Religious.html
Still another piece of misinformation among Christians deals with prayer in schools. Prayer in schools is allowed; what is not allowed is for teachers, administrators, or other government representatives to prescribe prayer. The Foundation for Traditional Values provides this summary: http://www.rae.org/student.html.
Another long-standing message warns people NEVER to call a number in the 809 area code. The basic idea is correct - SOME, not all, numbers in the 809 area code are international pay-per-call numbers with high rates and are used to fraudulently steal money from you. There are some inaccuracies in the e-mail though. The basic advice is don't call a number you don't recognize. Most phone numbers in the 809 area code are legitimate. There are other area codes that are also international calls, some created since this e-mail first circulated in 1996. See http://www.scambusters.org/809Scam.html for more accurate up-to-date information. It's best to circulate this link rather than the inaccurate e-mail.
Here's where to get more info various hoaxes, from the Computer Incident Advisory Capability (CIAC) at the Federal Department of Energy: http://HoaxBusters.ciac.org/
Another good source for reliable information is the Urban Legends site: http://urbanlegends.about.com
And another: http://www.urbanlegends.com/
One more: http://www.truthorfiction.com
Symantec, maker of Norton Antivirus, has info on various hoaxes here: http://www.symantec.com/avcenter/hoax.html
The Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT) is a reliable, but very technical,
source on computer threats, and how to deal with them. Their site is at http://www.cert.org