Once again a virus hoax is spreading quickly over the internet, forwarded by well-intentioned folk who really should have spent more time researching whether the warning was genuine or not.
The warning tells people to look out for emails which have the subject line "Postcard from Bejing" (sic) or "Resignation of Barack Obama" as the attached file can "burn the whole hard C disc (sic) of your computer".
The typical text of the hoax warning reads as follows:
Subject: FORWARD THIS WARNING AMONG FRIENDS, FAMILY AND CONTACTS
PLEASE FORWARD THIS WARNING AMONG FRIENDS, FAMILY AND CONTACTS! You should be alert during the next few days. Do not open any message with an attachment entitled 'POSTCARD FROM BEJING' or 'RESIGNATION OF BARACK OBAMA ', regardless of who sent it to you. It is a virus that opens A POSTCARD IMAGE, then 'burns' the whole hard C disc of your computer.
This virus will be received from someone who has your e-mail address in their contact list. This is the reason why you need to 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 entitled 'POSTCARD FROM BEJING' or 'RESIGNATION OF BARACK OBAMA' even though sent to you by a trusted friend, under no circumstance, do not open it! Shut down your computer immediately.
This is the worst virus announced by CNN last evening. It has been classified by Microsoft as the most destructive virus ever. The 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.
COPY THIS E-MAIL, AND SEND IT TO YOUR FRIENDS. REMEMBER: IF YOU SEND IT TO THEM, YOU WILL BENEFIT ALL OF US.
Hoaxes like this exist because it's so easy to forward an electronic warning to all of your friends and colleagues, and many people who may be suspicious of the warning decide it's better to be safe than sorry.
Internet users should think very carefully before they send a message on to all of their contacts, as they may be perpetuating an irritating hoax. You should always check to see if it is believable, and not a known hoax, before even considering sending it onto other computer users.
It's worth remembering that hoaxes can cause serious problems, as innocent users over-react to the alert. Sometimes users become convinced that they have become infected by the bogus virus, and when their anti-virus software "fails" to find the infection resort to deleting critical files or formatting their hard drive.
Virus hoaxes aren't just a nuisance, they're a menace. By forwarding these hoaxes to your friends and family you could be panicking them into taking the worst possible action.