Privacy, Security & Virus Information
Don't Let the Old E-mail Attachment Trick Fool You
Computer viruses at one time could only attack our computers through e-mail attachments. It could be said that these were in the "good old days", when most home computers at least were subject to seemingly never-ending waves of spam, and an unsuspecting surfer could open a virus-infested e-mail attachment, temporarily blinded by the promise of great riches, or a weekend for two in Bognor Regis. Thankfully, these days most of the computer-owning public have become alert to the dangers of opening e-mail from unclear sources and with anti-virus software becoming increasingly sophisticated, this threat has been largely removed from our radar, only to be replaced by more sinister threats. That doesn't mean that we should now begin to open all our e-mail attachments without fear. There are still plenty viruses out there to attack our computers through opening the wrong e-mail attachment. So here are a few tips to help the innocent and unsuspecting to recognise a potential e-mail attachment threat.
Basically, if you are not totally acquainted with the person who sent you an e-mail with an attachment, you shouldn't open it. If the sender has advised you that a specific e-mail is on its way with a specific attachment, and then it is a risk worth taking; otherwise think twice. If the attachment is a Word files (.DOC), Excel spreadsheet (.XLS), or an image such as JPG or GIF, then you should be able to open them with confidence. If you open a Word or Excel file before proceeding too far, you should make sure that it doesn't contain any macro files, which could disguise a virus. If the attachment is an EXE, COM or VBS file, then it should be discarded without any second thought. These are executable files and will more than likely contain a virus, which can and probably will do tremendous damage to your computer. The only defense that you can have is to never run executables that arrive via e-mail, even at the risk of offending the person that supposedly sent it.
Computer viruses have sadly moved on a great deal since the hey-day of the attachment transmitted babies of just a year or two ago. That doesn't mean that complacency be allowed to creep in. Anyone who regularly receives e-mails and sends them needs to make sure that there is an anti-virus software installed and active on the computer. Doing so will protect them from any of the dangers of these innocent looking and tempting “to open” e-mail attachments.