Email has changed the way that we communicate with each other and is an incredibly useful tool for staying in touch with friends and business colleagues around the world. However, your email is often a target for spammers, scammers, viruses and other unsavoury internet parasites. Opening the wrong email attachment could mean serious trouble for your computer, so it is crucial that you know how to avoid viruses when checking your mail.
Here are some tips for keeping yourself safe from email viruses:
- Before you open an attachment in an email, stop to think, “Do I know this person? Was I expecting them to send me this file?” If you are not sure, check with them before opening it.
- Don’t trust the “From” information in the email, as that information is very easily forged. The author of the message might not be the same person that the email pretends that it is.
- Sometimes a virus will infect the computer of someone you know and then infiltrate their address book, sending itself to all of the people in their contacts including you! Even if the email looks like it is from someone you know, be careful before opening it.
- Be wary of e-greetings and e-cards. Many email worms and viruses will disguise themselves as these friendly greetings. Check with the sender before opening the card.
- If you receive an email that looks like it is from your banking institution and asks you to respond with your password, PIN or account number, delete it right away and report it to the bank. A legitimate banking institution will never ask you to enter this information via email so you can be sure that this is an identity theft scam.
- Also, if an email links you to your bank website, watch out. Some scammers create lookalike banking websites to steal your information. Look closely at the URL and make sure that it is spelled correctly.
- Watch out for emails with terrible spelling and grammatical errors, as these are usually spam.
- Email viruses usually use files with sexual names such as PORN.EXE to entice curious users into clicking on them. Always avoid email attachments with pornographic file names.
- Don’t open the attachments in email advertisements or other promotional unsolicited mail.
- Never open an attachment in your email which has the file extension .vbs, .shs or .pif. These types of extensions are rarely ever in normal file attachments but are often used by viruses, malware and computer worms.
- Whenever you download an attached file, be sure to scan it with your antivirus software to ensure that there are no viruses hidden within it. Remember, no matter how careful you are your antivirus program will be no help if it is not frequently updated so make sure that you are keeping it up to date.
- One of the best ways to avoid receiving viruses in your email is to decrease the number of people who know your email address. If you have to fill out a form on a website, use a fake email instead.
- Also, be wary of unsolicited junk advertising that gives you a link to click to “be removed from our mailing list.” Unfortunately, the real purpose of this is to confirm that they have a valid address and once they know you are there they will start to sell your email address to other spammers.
Spam and harmful content in your email is annoying, but as long as you are smart about which attachments you open you will avoid infecting your computer with a nasty virus.
Viruses can hide in your emails and infect your computer, so be careful about opening attachments and scan them with McAfee Total Protection.