The Pitfalls of Email
Email is one of the most wonderful tools both in the work environment and in personal life. The distance between family and friends which used to take a week to bridge by envelope, stamp and airplane has been erased with a stroke of the send key. Even though social networking sites have become the new way of reaching out to people, email still remains one of the most important ways to communicate with family, friends and co-workers. Yet as with all of modern technology’s ways of making things easier and faster, email is still prime territory for attackers to find access to their victims. Why forwarding emails with attachments can be dangerous: Attackers count on the fact that most people will immediately trust any message that is sent to them by somebody they know. Viruses can infect many machines in a record amount of time. However, forwarding an email isn’t actually necessary to infect other computers. Some viruses are set up to scan a user’s machine for email addresses to send the infected message to.
Be aware that any attachment forwarded to you may contain a virus, even if it was sent to you by somebody you trust. They may not know the file contained a virus because it was forwarded to them as well. Bottom line: if you can’t be sure, don’t open the file and delete it immediately. You might also request of family and friends that they not just randomly forward things to you as opening them would make your machine vulnerable
The automatic download setting: Many email programs available to us may have features such as automatically downloading email attachments. It speaks for itself that this “user-friendly” option immediately exposes a machine to viruses within those attachments.
Check the settings in your email program and make sure the option to automatically download email attachments is disabled.
The saving and scanning option: Sometimes you have no option but to open an attachment. Using your anti-virus software to scan the file before opening it is a great way to protect yourself and the others in your address book.
First you must make sure that the signatures in your anti-virus have been updated. Save the file to your computer or onto a disk and manually scan it using your anti-virus software before opening it.
Using the BCC feature to forward emails: We have all received forwarded emails containing a slew of prior recipients and (because they are just too cute or funny not to) we have even forwarded them ourselves without thinking about the risk. Spammers and email-borne viruses may harvest those addresses and target them relentlessly.
A great way to reduce the risk is to teach yourself and others to use the BCC (Blind Carbon Copy) feature. Rather than using the To: field, list multiple recipients in the BCC: field. Your email address will be less likely to appear in the inbox of people you don't know, hereby reducing the risk of harvesting. Additionally it would be most respectful to first remove all email addresses within the message.