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Malicious Mobile Code by Roger A. Grimes

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Preventing Email Attacks

Antivirus scanners alone cannot protect you against email attacks. As the I Love You virus proved, by the time the antivirus folks have updated their signature databases to find the latest bug, it has already spread around the world. Here are some better suggestions. The first four are for anyone using Internet email, and the rest are for Outlook users.

Disable Scripting and HTML Content in Email

Most Windows-based email systems, if they are HTML-enabled, allow you to disable scripting and HTML. Let’s face it. HTML-enabled email is pretty, but it can easily contain malicious code. Do yourself a favor and keep non-text email features to a minimum.

Treat Unexpected Emails with Caution

Most email viruses rely on end-users to run attached files or click on Internet links. Stop the habit. Do not run untrusted attachments and don’t click on Internet links in emails that arrive unexpectedly in your inbox. Do read any text-based message or joke to your heart’s content. Some people will go as far as to inspect email headers of suspicious messages looking to see if the message really came from where it claims. This doesn’t help with the whole crop of email worms that send themselves from a friend’s unprotected email client.

Keep Email Client Updated

Like any other Internet-enabled software, keeping it up-to-date will ensure the latest security holes are patched. And because email clients and browsers are often integrated, make sure to keep your browser current, too. ...

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