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Windows Live Update 'Red Alert' Sector Zero Virus Hoax

Outline
Message circulating rapidly via social media posts and email warns users to watch out for messages with an attached file called "Windows Live Update" or "Archive (Windows Live)" because it contains the most destructive computer virus ever.

Burning Hard Drive

Depositphotos.com/Klanneke



Brief Analysis
The claims in the message are utter nonsense. The "warning" is just a revamped version of several earlier hoaxes that made similar claims. There is no virus like the one described in this message. Sending on such false information will help nobody.

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Examples
Red Alert Virus Hoax

URGENT NOTICE! PLEASE READ MY FRIENDS! ALERT POLICE AUTHORITIES:

At your computer and my, circulates this notice to your friends and family contacts! In the coming days be aware: do not open any message containing an attached file called "Windows Live Update" regardless of who you send. It is a virus that burns the whole hard drive. This virus comes from a known person who has your address list. This is why you should send this message to all your contacts.

If you receive a message with the attachment "Windows Live Update", even if sent by a friend, do not open it and immediately turns off your computer. This is the worst virus announced by CNN, and has been classified by Microsoft as the most destructive virus ever. This virus was discovered by McAfee yesterday. There is no possibility of repair for this type of virus. He simply destroys Sector Zero from the hard disk. Remember - you: if you send this information to your contacts, you will protect us all

Detailed Analysis
According to this supposedly urgent warning, which is currently circulating rapidly via social media posts and email, users should watch for messages that carry an attached file with the name "Windows Live Update" or "Archive (Windows Live)". The message, often billed as a "red alert for your computer", claims that the attached file contains a virus that has been classified by Microsoft as the most destructive ever. If opened, claims the message, this terrible virus will "burn" the entire hard disk on the infected computer thereby destroying the disk's "Sector Zero" and rendering it unfixable. The message asks recipients to send on the information to as many people as possible as well as alert the police.



However, the claims in the message are utter hogwash with nary a grain of truth . In fact, the message is just one more version of a long running series of absurd "Sector Zero" virus hoaxes that have plagued inboxes and social networks for well over a decade. As the following example of one such earlier hoax reveals, all are cut from the same cloth.

You should be alert during the next days: Do not open any message with an attached filed called "Invitation" regardless of who sent it. It is a virus that opens an Olympic Torch which "burns" the whole hard disc C of your computer. This virus will be received from someone who has your e-mail address in his/her contact list, that is why you should send this e-mail to all your contacts. It is better to receive this message 25 times than to receive the virus and open it.

If you receive a mail called "invitation", though sent by a friend, do not open it and shut down your computer immediately.

This is the worst virus announced by CNN, it has been classified by Microsoft as the most destructive virus ever. This virus was discovered by McAfee yesterday, and there is no repair yet for this kind of virus. This virus simply destroys the Zero Sector of the Hard Disc, where the vital information is kept. SEND THIS E-MAIL TO EVERYONE YOU KNOW, COPY THIS E-MAIL AND SEND IT TO YOUR FRIENDS AND REMEMBER: IF YOU SEND IT TO THEM, YOU WILL BENEFIT ALL OF US

Yet another recent variant of the hoax warns users to watch out for messages with an attachment named "Invitation Facebook". And one of the earliest variants of the hoax began circulating back in 2001 and claimed that the "worst virus ever" traveled via an email with the subject line "A virtual card for you". Not one of the many versions of this silly warning have any basis in fact whatsoever. This version tacks on the ridiculous suggestion that recipients alert police about the supposed virus. This advise may cause people who fall for the hoax to waste valuable police time by reporting non-existent computer viruses. Even if the virus was real, it would obviously not fall to your local police authority to deal with it.

If you receive one of these silly hoaxes, please do not forward or repost it. And please take the time to inform the sender that the message is a hoax. Sending on such nonsense serves only to spread misinformation and cause unnecessary alarm among communities.

Finally, it is perhaps pertinent to point out that some phishing scam emails may falsely claim that Windows Live or another email service needs to be updated. These scam messages try to trick users into divulging their email account information to criminals via bogus login pages. Obviously, the above virus hoax warning has no relevance whatsoever to any Windows Live phishing scam attempts, but some recipients may be confused by the wording of the hoax and make an undue connection between the two.

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Last updated: February 17, 2013
First published: September 6, 2012
Written by Brett M. Christensen
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References
Olympic Torch Invitation Virus Hoax
Invitation FB Olympic Torch Virus Hoax
Virtual Card For You Virus Hoax
Windows Live 'Account Blocked' Phishing Scam