Friday, August 19, 2011

Email Safety–Your Inbox Might Be More Dangerous Then You Think!

Next to the internet the most dangerous thing on your computer is probably your email inbox.  Surprisingly, your inbox might actually be more dangerous than the internet; however, a few tips can help you keep you perfectly safe.  Please note that note that not all tips will apply to you, depending on your email program and service provider.  I am also mainly focusing on security – not email etiquette.

  • A good rule of thumb if you do not know who sent it – delete it!
  • Junk mail – First – Don’t open it!  DON’T!  While unlikely, it is possible to get a virus by simply opening an email. 
  • Junk mail – Second – If you email program has a junk option be sure to use, this will help your email program filter out junk mail.
  • Junk mail – Third – Never, ever open an attachment in a junk email!  There is about a 99.9% chance whatever is in the attachment contains a virus.
  • Junk mail – Forth – Do not use the unsubscribe button in junk mail, this can be used to verify your email address – just delete the junk mail!
  • Be careful of suspicious emails sent from known users (for example a friend).  If your friends email address was hacked, the spammers will use your friends address book to send message – thus appearing to be legitimate.
  • Along the same lines as the last tip, be careful with all email attachments!  Even if it is someone you trust, they may have a virus on their system that is hitching a ride on all their attachments!
  • Loading “server” images in an email can allow someone to track/locate/verify your email address, most email programs ask if you want to load/view images (messages very depending on email program)  Loading images should be safe for non-junk mail items or from known senders.
  • Using a preview pane (or reading pane) will automatically open mail; while this is a handy feature, it simply it is not safe and should be shut off.  At the very least if you have separate junk folder make sure any reading/preview pane is off the junk mail as well as the delete items.
  • Be careful when using auto-replies – for example when you are on vacation to let people know you cannot respond to there email – its better to just let the email sit!  If an auto-reply message falls into the wrong hands, it can tip someone off that your house is available for use (burglary).
  • Never send your email address’s password in an email or any password for that matter!
  • Be careful with emails from your bank (or similar places) – if they are asking for account information it is most likely fake (more like guaranteed)!
  • Also be careful with emails that say you won something – but you just need to send them some information (like your social security number) to verify you.  Also common is from some poor (at least they would be if I got my hands on them!) person that is about die and needs to get rid of a few million dollars.
  • And lastly a douse of common sense is always good!

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