New Century Computers
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Email Viruses

Lately it seems I have to clean up a virus-infested computer every other day or so.  In many cases, the victim caught the virus in spite of having a top-of-the-line antivirus installed.  The first thing they ask is "How did I get this?"

The problem is how fast email viruses spread.  The antivirus vendor may not have seen the virus yet when you get your copy.  I received the "assistant.exe" virus over a week before it appeared on McAfee's website, for instance.  I wasn't infected by it, though, because I am suspicious.

Another common mistake is to install an antivirus program and then ignore it.  All current antivirus software requires regular updating, generally every week or so, to prevent the virus database from getting stale.  Antivirus software typically comes out of the box with a virus database three to four months old; a lot of new viruses are developed in that amount of time.  If the antivirus program, or Windows itself, tell you that there is a problem with the antivirus, you need to call for tech support!

The rule is simple:  If you get an email with an attachment, and you are not sure what it is, don't open it.  People often tell me in all seriousness that they "won't catch a virus because they only open attachments from people they know."  Your oldest and closest friend is just as vulnerable to viruses as you are.

Note that a picture attachment in an email will be displayed automatically, and this is safe.  Likewise, an email "encapsulated" inside another email is just as safe to look at as the "wrapper" is.  On the other hand, an attachment ending in ".exe", ".com", ".vbs", ".js", or in fact anything you don't recognize is probably not a good idea to open.

Don't be confused:  Previewing the email message body is usually safe.  It's opening the attachment that isn't.  I say, just say no.  Do you really need to see the frog in the blender?

 
New Century Computers — Email Viruses Page Last Updated 06/28/2016