Does putting !000(Worm Alert) as an entry in my address book on my computer protect me from computer worms and viruses?

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In short the answer is no. There is a message being spread over the Internet that suggests people can set up simple virus and worm protection by adding a false address to the start of their address books. It recommends people create an address book entry with a name in the form of

!000 (WormAlert)

The theory is that a virus which spreads itself via the entries in your address book will encounter this address first, try to send itself there, and generate an "undeliverable" failure message, which not only stops the virus but also alerts you that you've been infected.

There are many things wrong with this theory. As a sample,

  • Not all viruses go through address books sequentially (although some might). Many pick addresses at random from the address book.
  • Not all viruses wait for success on one attempt before proceeding with another. In fact, this is a very inefficient way for a virus to spread. It is more likely that the message to the WormAlert address will be sent at the same time as messages to the legitimate addresses.

And while this might stop certain viruses from spreading via your address book, it does nothing to prevent a virus from doing damage to your own (already infected) computer, or from spreading via other methods.

In short, while there is nothing explicitly dangerous about it, this is not an effective protection.

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