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Hoaxes & Hypes

Sarah Gordon, Joe Wells
7th Virus Bulletin International Conference in San Francisco, California
October 1997

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Virus hoaxes and virus hypes are new and growing problems in the corporate environment, where the spread of such rumors can cause as much disruption as actual virus outbreaks. We review a number of recent examples of hoax and hype, and show that hoaxes that become widespread have certain characteristics that promote their spread. Using these characteristics, it is possible to create a set of rules which will help to distinguish fabrication from fact. Similarly, virus hype, often generated by the anti-virus industry or well-meaning members of the media, portrays real but insignificant viruses as doomsday threats. We show how such hype is almost always wrong. Finally, we discuss corporate policies that have been proven to minimize the disruption of hoaxes and hype, and give corporate anti-virus administrators a wealth of information resources to which they can turn as new hoaxes and hype come to light.

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