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Archived article from the year 2000
"Your data has a social life too"


As safe as a postcard

Avoiding junk (spam)

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Every year, millions of people catch a computer virus. Some catch two or three, which makes you wonder if our race is really as clever as it's cracked up to be.

Safe procedures for email

!. Do not run Outlook with the preview window open. That's the window at the bottom right that shows the content of whatever email is highlighted above. It's open by default and needs to be closed manually. Go to View in the top menu bar and click on Preview Pane to close it. Keeping the preview window open increases your risk of getting a virus and also of being added to more junk mailing lists.

2. Do not open junk mail. There are tricks that nasty people use to feed programs into your computer when you open a mail - even when you don't open an attachment. Also this will help to keep the amount of junk down.

3. Think twice before opening any attachment. Is it from somebody you trust and are you expecting it? If you're not expecting it, and it comes with a short generic message, email back to check that it's genuine. Remember that many viruses are capable of taking over address lists and sending out mails.

4. Keep your anti-virus software switched on - it's essential. And update your virus definitions once a month, or more often if there's a big virus scare.

Avoiding Microsoft software generally increases your level of security. For example, in some mail programs you can open attachments using a text editor and quickly check to see if the content is genuine. But not in Outlook. Also, most self-propagating viruses are aimed at Outlook rather than its competitors. If security is a high priority, you may be better off using an alternative mail program such as Eudora.

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