Strathclyde University and Associates: Guidelines For Dealing With Virus Warnings And Other Hoaxes - Do not forward it to everyone you know. If this warning did not come from your recognised IT support people (IT Services or your Departmental Computing Officer), then the chances are extremely high that it is a hoax. This is especially likely to be true if the mail was forwarded by a friend, even if they "know about these things".
Spotting Virus Hoaxes
Virus hoaxes are actually fairly easy to spot, once you've seen a few of them. They all use pretty much the same sort of language, lots of use of CAPITALS, usually mention some major IT company you've heard of (e.g., IBM, Microsoft, AOL) or some government, and almost always advise you to "pass it on to AS MANY PEOPLE AS YOU KNOW". They often refer to dire consequences such as the destruction of "EVERYTHING on your hard drive". You can find out more about the characteristics of virus hoaxes at:
Strathclyde University and Associates: Guidelines For Dealing With Virus Warnings And Other Hoaxes - CIAC Internet Hoax Information: How To Identify A Hoax
Unless you're extremely unlucky, they first people who will receive information about new, real viruses are the virus vendors and the various organisations concerned with Internet security. These are the people who will send out alerts to relevant mailing lists, and put information about the viruses on their web pages. They won't mail "everyone on the Internet" to inform them about the virus. If you've asked to be kept informed about virus threats by registering on an email distribution list, then you will probably receive mail from them. If you haven't, and you receive mail about a virus purporting to be from an anti-virus software vendor, and it hasn't been forwarded by a friend or associate, then be extremely suspicious.
Strathclyde University and Associates: Guidelines For Dealing With Virus Warnings And Other Hoaxes - Other Hoaxes: More commonly seen now are other types of hoaxes; so-called 'phishing' attempts (messages from a bank or other financial site, asking you to confirm your identity and login details) and 419 scams (messages on behalf of the relatives of dead but rich people, often in unstable African states, who need assistance in transferring money out of their country).