How to avoid email viruses by lhh12385


									How to avoid email viruses

Email viruses have become the concern-of-the-day among legions of computer
professionals. These clever bits of computer programming can be nothing more
than irritants or they can cause serious damage to information stored on target
computers. What makes email viruses even more insidious, as opposed to more
traditional electronic pathogens, is that they can affect anybody who reads email.

Most of these email-born viruses arrive in our inbox as attachments to an email
message. Attaching a file to an email message is a very effective way to send
files to others — such as a Microsoft Word Document or an Excel Spreadsheet. It
is also an efficient way to propagate a virus from one computer to another.

Usually, these “ carrier” email messages have enticing subject lines that
encourage us to read the contents of the message. The contents of the message
usually instruct us to open the attachment in order to see something humorous,
erotic or newsworthy. In most cases, all we have to do to get “infected” by an
email-born virus is to open the attachment. Once the attachment is opened
(usually by simply double-clicking on the reference to the attachment) the virus is
unleashed. At other times, to be “infected” all that has to be done is to simply
read the email message carrying the virus.

To minimize the risk of having your computer “infected” by an email virus

   •   Delete (without opening) unsolicited emails, especially those with email

   •   Never open an attachment unless you know what it is. If you receive an
       email message carrying an attachment from a known source and you
       were not aware that it was coming, it is recommended that you verify the
       legitimacy of the email from the source. It is not enough that the mail
       originated from an address you recognize. The Melissa virus spread
       precisely because it originated from a familiar address.

       Also, malicious code might be distributed in amusing or enticing programs.
       Don't run programs of unknown origin, regardless of who sent you the
       program. Likewise, don't send programs of unknown origin to your friends
       or coworkers simply because they are amusing -- it might be a Trojan

   •   Be aware that it is easy to forge electronic mail so that it appears to have
       come from someone else, and that mail that traverses the Internet is
       easily intercepted, altered, or rerouted.
   •   Turn off preview. In the past, you could avoid infecting your computer
       with a virus by not opening attachments. That’s no longer the case —
       script viruses embedded in HTML-based email with no attachments can
       infect your machine even if you only preview the email.

       To avoid infecting your system, turn off the preview panel in your email
       program — that way you can scan or delete suspicious emails without
       viewing them at all.

   •   Be aware of hoaxes, and don't overreact to reports of new viruses.

   •   Do not open email attachments with the file extensions .exe .vbs or .scr,
       .com, .bat, .dll, Microsoft Word, or Microsoft Excel unless you are certain
       of the file’s origins.

   •   Scan for viruses; if you must open an attachment, using regularly
       updated anti-virus software. Updating once a month or less is not enough
       to be sure your anti-virus software is, and remains, up-to-date.

   •   Learn the risks involved in the use of "mobile code" such as Active X,
       Java, and JavaScript. It is often the case that electronic mail programs use
       the same code that web browsers use to render HTML. Vulnerabilities that
       affect ActiveX, Java, and JavaScript often are applicable to electronic mail
       as well as web pages.

Most of all, Be Suspicious! Do not believe everything you read, either in email
or on the internet. There are a myriad of wrong tips and tricks that will harm your
computer, not protect it. Hoaxes can do just as much damage to your computer
as a virus, if the hoax urges you to delete important files.

Users often will forward a message to everyone they know without verifying the
information. The recent "sulfnbk.exe" hoax, which prompted users to delete a
valid Windows file, shows just how powerful and dangerous this practice can

   •   If an email reports that this virus is undetectable by all Anti-Virus Software,
       be suspicious!

   •   If an email reports you must delete this virus manually to avoid damage to
       your computer data, be suspicious!

   •   If an email warning uses multiple exclamation marks, be suspicious!

   •   If an email warning has multiple spelling and grammar mistakes, be
Mass-mailing math

Last, but certainly not least, be aware that mass-mailing can also do as much
damage to email as a virus. First, they fill up your inbox with unwanted emails,
taking up your time and computer space while you delete them. They also clog
the email servers, slowing, and in some cases stopping, email.

Let's say, for instance, that you have 25 people in your address book and you
send an unsubstantiated warning to all of them, prompting them to forward the
message to everyone they know. If each of them has 25 people in his or her
address book, your message could be passed on to 625 people. If each of those
people has 25 entries, you could reach 15,625 people.

Within 5 forwards of your false information message, you could reach a
staggering 9,765,625 people (based on only 25 people per address book.)
Remember, if you ever have a question about a virus or hoax, or are just not sure
what to do with an email, you can always call VGM and our trained staff will help
you decide if this is a legitimate email or a destructive one.

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