Monday, March 2, 2009

Web Secret #41: Avoiding e-mail Viruses

If your computer has ever been invaded by a virus - I feel your pain. I remember clearly...the hours on line with technical support, the loss of data, the time spent hunting down the original install discs for all my operating software (where is that stuff anyway?), the days spent reinstalling said software...The horror...

If it's been a while since your last virus invasion, or if you are lucky enough never to have been infected, this post is for you. This is not the time for complacency.

Aside from the obvious, (ie make sure you have an active and updated anti-virus software installed on your machine), here are 5 tips to avoiding e-mail viruses.

1. When you receive e-mail advertisements or other unsolicited e-mail, no matter have bland or seemingly harmless, do not open their attachments or follow web links contained in them.

2. If you receive an e-mail from a friend that seems rather out of character - you never knew that Pamela spoke urdu, or Fred was selling viagra, or Nancy was into condo conversions - call your friend BEFORE opening any e-mails with odd subject matters or out of character attachments. They may have been infected and are unwittingly passing the virus on to you.

3. This one seems obvious, but sometimes I go through my e-mail very early in the morning, when my double espresso has yet to kick in. Do not open e-mails or attachments with sexual filenames. E-mail worms often use attachments with names like PORNO.EXE or ROXANNE_NUDE.

4. Never open e-mail attachments with the file extensions VBS, SHS or PIF. These extensions are almost never used in normal attachments but are frequently used by viruses and worms.

5. Never open attachments with double file extensions such as NAME.BMP.EXE or NAME.TXT.VBS.


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