A e-mail hoax claims that a nefarious AOL user named OldNavyBaby14 is stalking the backwoods of America Online’s Instant Messenger, IMing people and then thrashing their hard drives into digital oblivion.
Fortunately it’s a hoax.
Here’s the original e-mail:
This version was collected on July 30, 2001:
Please, pass it on……
A MEMBER OF AOL WITH THE SCREEN NAME OF “OLDNAVYBABY14” MIGHT TRY TO
SEND YOU A VIRUS WHICH COULD CRASH YOUR COMPUTER SYSTEM.
HIS TRICK: HE INNOCENTLY Instant Messages you, HELLO, WAITS 30
SECONDS, THEN IM’s YOU AGAIN, WAITS ANOTHER 30 SECONDS, AND THEN WRITES, “WHAT
THE *****, WHY AREN’T YOU ANSWERING?” DO NOT REPLY TO HIS IM’s, NOR READ
ANY OF HIS E-MAIL. ONCE YOU REPLY, YOUR COMPUTER WILL FREEZE AND THAT’S HOW =
YOU KNOW YOUR HARD DRIVE IS BEING WIPED OUT.
PLEASE PASS THIS ON TO EVERY ONE YOU KNOW!!!
This is one in a long line of Instant Messenger related hoaxes, in which some underhanded, short-tempered individual tries to destroy hard drives with an evil hard-drive slaying virus.
Like the others, this is bunk. Just receiving an e-mail – can not erase your hard drive. Nor can it unleash a virus. To the best of my knowledge, the same is true for Instant Messages.
However, opening an attachment that comes with an e-mail can infect your machine with a virus. So can downloading a file from a site suggested to you by someone using AOL Instant Messenger. Thus, you should never open attachments or download files from individuals and/or places you don’t know.
After all, if someone walked up to you on the street and offered you a bottle of Coca Cola, would you take it? Probably not — and the same logic holds on the net. Heck, you have to be more careful on the net — you should be wary of any unexpected files or e-mail attachments sent your way, even if it’s from someone you know.
In short, the e-mail’s bunk, but it’s not totally off base — always exercise caution around attachments, don’t open anything that you aren’t expecting and scan everything to do intent to open with an up-to-date anti-virus program.
The following sites have more information on this hoax:
- McAffee Anti-Virus The good folks at McAfee Anti-Virus have found no evidence to back up this hoax. The writer of the hoax, they speculate, mistakenly thought that an IM they received unleashed a virus on their machine, when it all likelihood the release of the virus and the IM were coincidental.
- About.com’s Urban Legends Guide: The guide features a write-up on the “Attack of the Blinking Buddy Chat Invites”, a hoax that similar to this one, although a lot more detailed.