Friday, July 22, 2005

Virus Attack! Where did it come from!?

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Where, did you ask? Your E-mail account is the most common answer. Yes, it's disturbingly true. E-mail attachment is the favorite method of passing an infection. No matter what E-mail program you use or what version of Windows you're running, you can help avoid some viruses by following a few basic rules. Not using windows? You're still not safe. The rules listed here are good to follow no matter what operating system you're using. Mainly because you might wind up sending it to someone who DOES use the targeted environment. I want to thank Microsoft for the rules.Follow these basic guidelines when dealing with attachments in an E-mail message, no matter what E-mail program you're using:

1. Don't open any attachment unless you know whom it's from AND you were expecting it. Be careful on this one. Some viruses send themselves using the address book on a system that has been infected. If you have an AVS package (Anti-Virus Software) enable E-mail scanning for incoming messages. Don't have one? Get one as soon as possible. McAfee, Norton, whatever, get one! Consider this a necessary expense or an investment. There are FREE AVS packages available (AVG is a good one) SO THERE IS NO EXCUSE FOR NOT HAVING ONE!

2. If you receive an E-mail message with an attachment from someone you don't know, delete it immediately. A lot of us can't afford to do this. Such messages sometimes mean paying jobs. A good AVS, again, scanning incoming emails minimizes your exposure here.

3. Use antivirus software and keep it updated. Amen, brother!! 'Nuf said!

4 If you need to send an E-mail attachment to someone, let them know you'll be sending it so they don't think it's a virus. Sometimes this just isn't feasible. If you're scanning incoming messages with an AVS, you probably have the option of scanning Outbound messages, too. Do it! Prevent the spread!

5. Use span filters to help block unwanted E-mail, much of which contains dangerous attachments. Check with your ISP (Internet Service Provider) to see if they have SPAM filtering and learn how to use it. Many ISP's provide a way for their subscribers to customize the filtering they provide. Also, some Mail Clients, like Eudora, provide the ability for the user to pick out Junk E-mails. The application will remember the Junk tag for the senders address and will mark any incoming message from that address. Then setting a filter in the application, you can file the junk in a directory or just throw it away. I suggest putting it into a folder and check the folder once in a while to make sure it really is junk. You might miss something important otherwise.

I mentioned Eudora before. I recommend installing it. It has a lot of neat features (spell checking, etc.) that makes it a really nice thing to use. Setting it up is fairly easy and it comes with a really good manual in PDF format. It is also FREE! It's produced by Qualcomm, Inc. and if you want to check it out, their web site, is a great place to start. You can interface it to any mail server I've ever heard of except for Lotus Notes and I'm not sure if it can't do that. In my setup, I use Eudora and Norton AVS. The AVS scans both incoming and outbound mail plus automatically updates the Virus Definitions so it's always as close to current as I can get.

Spyware and Adware is covered next time so stay tuned.

Have Fun!