The "Good Times" Virus Hoax

Yet again, I've received the dire warning. So, once again the "Good Times" Virus Hoax page is on the net.

How To Create Panic And Annoy The Locals
By Oren Levin

Quick! Hide the modem and hard-drive. Pack up the floppies and head for the hills. The VIRUS is back and it will not go away.

Good. Now that I have your attention let me explain. Like any good urban area, the internet has "grown" its own urban myths. "What urbanity," you ask? Let me point you down this alley over here... Well, that's another story for another time. Right now I want to tell you the story of the GOOD TIMES VIRUS, the virus that would not die.

I received a dire warning last week from a well intentioned member of an email list to which I subscribe. SCREAMING AT THE TOP OF HIS CAPITAL LETTERS, he warned us of the newest threat to the integrity of your computers. The Good Times virus is coming; the Good Times virus is coming... Beware of any email message with the subject "Good Times." Soon after I had sent a reassuring note to the list, a second message arrived with the subject, "Cuidado con el virus," again warning of that dire and dreadful threat, the Good Times virus.

Let me be the first (second, third, fourth, etc...) to calm the nerves of anyone who is new to the internet (and any of us who have been here longer) -- there is NO SUCH THING AS THE GOOD TIMES VIRUS!! As Les Jones said,

For those who know already it's a hoax, it's a nuisance to read the repeated warnings. For people who don't know any better, it causes needless concern and lost productivity.

The Good Times virus has been appearing since as early as November of 1994 and poked its ugly head above the surface at least five times that I have been aware of. If you have gone scurrying off to secure your computer, don't despair. You're in good company. Most US colleges have been caught. Companies include AT&T, NBC, Texas Instruments, and others. Not even the Federal government has been spares as the FCC, NASA, and DoD will attest. And of course, in this global village we call the internet, the Good Times virus warnings have appeared all over the world.

So, is the Good Times virus a real computer virus? NO! Is it a social virus? Possibly. The best argument for this is by Clay Shirky :

It's for real. It's an opportunistic self-replicating email virus which tricks its host into replicating it, sometimes adding as many as 200,000 copies at a go. It works by finding hosts with defective parsing apparatus which prevents them from understanding that a piece of email which says there is an email virus and then asking them to remail the message to all their friends is the virus itself.

The best course of action is to calmly Delete the message and watch the warning dissolve into nothingness. If you are interested in more information about the Good Times virus, you can find the FAQ at . There is also information available from the US Department of Energy's Computer Incident Advisory Capability (CIAP) at .

Yes, there are a great number of computer viruses drifting on the net. There are also many email messages with the subject, "Good Times." There are not, however, any email viruses with the subject, "Good Times." So, get your modem and hard-drive out of their hiding places. Bring your floppy disks back to their normal resting place by the computer. Sleep well tonight knowing that they are safe from any and all good times.

© Copyright 1997 Pine Tree Consulting, All Rights Reserved.
Last Updated: 14-Oct-97