E-mail is the giant hole in your home or business through which almost all worms, viruses, Trojan horse files, general malware, and, of course, spam pour.

Spam and malware go hand in hand.

When users open file attachments from e-mail without checking the file for a virus first, they run the risk of infection. Yes, I know that you shouldn’t blame the victim and that the virus writers are to blame often fail to teach users to protect themselves. Users who open attachments from people they don’t know pay the price.

Making the situation worse, many viruses spread by sending e-mails (with infected attachment) to every address in the infected machine’s Microsoft Outlook or Outlook Express address book database. So trusting users who may never open an e-mail from an unknown person open e-mails from someone they do know.

Bam! They’re infected, because the e-mail really wasn’t from someone they know; it came from the virus stealing the addresses from someone they know.

Be careful

E-mail (and spam) senders trick you into loading a virus in the following ways:
✦ Pretend to be from someone you know and trust
✦ Hide the fact that an attachment is executable
✦ Offer help handling virus infections
✦ Include HTML code to activate programs located on Web sites

When you get an attachment you don’t expect, verify the sender and ask that person about the file you received. If the person sent it on purpose, you’ll have no problem. If that person has no idea that an e-mail with an attachment came bearing their address, both of you need to disinfect your systems.

Don’t open attachments if they are executable files. You can tell this by checking their file extension (the letters to the right of the dot at the end of the file name).

Unless you are positive the sender and files are trustworthy, do not click the attached files. Files with the following extensions can cause problems by executing when you open them:


When you look at the files on your computer, you will notice many of your files have these extensions and the files are trustworthy. Your operating system and all your applications rely on these file types. However, when you click an unexpected file in an e-mail message, the application will begin working so quickly your system will be compromised before you can react.

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