The other day I had coffee with a friend of mine (yes I do have friends). Anyway the conversation veered off into a rant about their computer being attacked by a virus. What is a virus? More importantly how do viruses spread? What has this got to do with emails and security? For those of you in the know and those of you who have a pretty good idea bear with me a little longer.
What is a Virus
Wikipedia: A computer virus is a type of malicious software program (“malware”) that, when executed, replicates by reproducing itself (copying its own source code) or infecting other computer programs by modifying them. Infecting computer programs can include as well, data files, or the “boot” sector of the hard drive.
The sole purpose of any virus is to replicate and spread itself. The most common way is via email. There are a lot of email viruses floating around in cyberspace. Its the twentieth century, everyone should know how viruses enter a computer and be prepared!
Let’s take a brief look at how email viruses can harm your computer
- Virus as An Email Hoax: The virus itself is not really an infection, the damage is clogging up inboxes and mail-servers. A hugh waste of time.
- Virus an Email Attachment: Virus can be programmed to destroy specific files on your system. Most viruses are delivered through an email attachment, they are either executable programs or macro viruses.
- Virus in The Email Body: HTML can also be used to embed scripts that execute automatically and subsequently infect your computer with a virus. Many mail programs, by default, block HTML.
What we can do
- Be smart, not fast.
- Verify the source of any suspicious email before you act.
- Don’t blindly forward emails, open attachments and links, or view HTML content.
- Get an antivirus program and make sure its set to regularly update.
- Make sure your mail program is set to not automatically download and open attachments or display HTML content.
The internet is a huge shopping basket of free information. Check the many websites that offer resources where you can check the veracity of email hoaxes, social media messages and Internet scams.
Here are three that I use:
- Hoax-slayer: http://www.hoax-slayer.com/
- Snopes.com: http://www.snopes.com/
- TruthOrFiction.com: https://www.truthorfiction.com/