In the past week we have had several computers come in for cleanup from a very bad computer virus from opening an email attachment from Federal Express. Because of this attack, we thought it would be a good idea to review some tips for avoiding spam that will in turn avoid a computer virus.
Spam in your mailbox is a fact of life – there is no getting around it. How you handle this potential computer virus threat will go a long way to eliminating the possibility that your computer will end up in our shop from a computer virus. Proper handling of spam will also help to eliminate cyber-crime like credit card fraud and identity theft.
Tips To Stop Spammers in Their Tracks and Avoid a Computer Virus
Do not Preview Your Emails
Some email programs, like Outlook, allow you to preview your email in a pane to the side or bottom of your screen. In some instances, spam email will contain special code that is designed to work within this pane which makes your susceptible to a computer virus referred to as a Trojan horse. Take a look at the options your email program offers and turn off your preview pane. If the send or the subject line of the email is not familiar, either delete it or send it to the junk folder.
Do not Fall for the Phisher’s Hook
The email we referred to from Federal Express is a perfect example of an email cleverly designed as a hoax. In many instances these emails are designed to get you to give them private information. In this instance they were claiming they were trying to deliver a package that was too heavy and you needed to open an attached confirmation. In other instances, the email will appear to be from your Credit Card Company or bank. Here are some NEVERs to follow:
If the email contains an attachment – NEVER open it. A legitimate business would NEVER send you an attachment unless you specifically requested that information be sent to you. An attachment is the perfect hiding place for a computer virus.
NEVER send private information such as social security number (even if they only ask for the last 4 digits), credit card numbers or bank numbers via email.
NEVER share your password via an email
This type of email fraud is referred to as phishing because they are tempting you send information that you would not normally reveal in an email.
Friend or Foe?
Don’t assume that because an email was sent to you from a friend that you can open the attachment. Again, if you have requested information be sent in an attachment and are expecting it, then it is ok to open the attachment. Otherwise, contact the sender and make sure they are truly the ones sending the attachment.
This is one of the top ways that a spammer will send a computer virus. They will hack into an email account and then send and then send an email message to everyone in their address book. Once you have opened the attachment, they are in your system and sending the same email to all of your contacts containing the same computer virus. This spreads the computer virus throughout hundreds of computers in minutes.
Read your Email in Plain Text
It is tempting to send a message back to the spammer telling them to leave you alone – don’t fall for this temptation. When you respond you are letting the spammer know that yours is a legitimate address and you will be hit with even more spam – not less. Unless you have actually subscribed to an email list, NEVER unsubscribe from a list. In many instances they are looking to confirm a valid email address. Along this same line, don’t forward the spam emails you receive no matter how funny or interesting. You may be sending a computer virus to your friends and family.
The best advice we can give you is to use common sense. If you weren’t expecting a package, you won’t be getting an email from a delivery company. Your financial institution will not communicate personal information via email. They may send a newsletter but that is all. Your friend is not going to send you something unless you asked for it. By being vigilant with your email, you can drastically cut down on the possibility of getting a computer virus. Even the most sophisticated anti-spam filter will not keep your system 100% free of a computer virus. You need to use caution and common sense.
It is going to happen, you will get hit with a computer virus at some time in your computing life, so give PcRx a call – we have the right prescription!
408 Main Street
Conway, SC 29526