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To protect against viruses, you should read the extensions on all email attachments - if you can.

Displaying file extensions

Here's how you get those all-important file extensions to show in Windows Explorer and other software. These instructions were originally created for Win95 and Win98 - you may need to make slight alterations for later operating systems.

Start from either Windows Explorer or the desktop folder "My Computer".

From the View menu choose "Folder Options".

Select "View" from the tabs.

In Advanced Settings > Files and Folders (which should now be showing) deselect "Hide file extensions for known file types". Click on the tick to turn the box blank.

While you're there, it's also worth looking at the "Hidden files" section, just above, and selecting "Show all files". Some virus maker is bound to abuse the hidden files system one day. So it's worth protecting against that in advance.

Extension .shs (scrap object) is a special case because it doesn't show up even when you request to see all file extensions (ah, Microsoft). To get to see it you have to go through the following procedure:

In Windows Explorer or My Computer, Click through View > Folder Options > File Types. Scroll down to Scrap Objects. Press Edit and check the Display box. Make sure the Confirm box is also checked.

A word of warning. Even after all this palaver, you sitll won't be able to see the extensions .pif and .lnk. Don't ask me why, ask Microsoft. It's no big surprise that these two extensions are very popular for viruses. Even worse, think what happens when the virus maker gives an executable file a double file extension like myvirus.gif.pif. That's the reason you can no longer rely on reading file extensions to identify viruses.

Reading file extensions to identify viruses (maybe)

An introduction to viruses

Assess your risk

Email and attachments

Web downloads

Anti-virus software

In Microsoft Word documents

Personal data
Mobile phones


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