Home > Email Scams > Email Viruses

Email Viruses

By: Chris Nickson - Updated: 8 Dec 2010 | comments*Discuss
 
Virus E-mail Email Attachment Trojan

Whilst not a scam in the strictest sense, there's still a strong element of the con about the way a virus is installed on your computer. The damage they can do is huge, clogging networks, destroying files and costing millions of pounds to repair and eliminate. However, there are ways you can make sure you're not a virus victim.

What Viruses Are And How They Work

The term virus actually isn't quite accurate, as it's usually extended to worms and Trojans, too. A virus can only spread from one computer to another when its host is taken to the uninfected computer - often as an e-mail attachment. When opened it infects your machine - the damage it does depends on what has been sent. A virus will use your e-mail address book to send copies of itself to everyone with whom you correspond. These will seem to be from you (just as you might have received the virus as an attachment from someone you know), without you even being aware they were sent.

Once a virus is running on your computer, it begins to infect programmes on your hard drive. Depending on the virus, it can erase all files with .doc extensions, for example (those are the documents you've created in Word), or other files. A worm replicates through computer networks, exploiting holes in security. They can slow traffic to a halt and be programmed to mount a mass attack on a certain site at a certain time. A Trojan (named for the Trojan horse) looks innocent, but contains malicious software than can do anything from deleting files to changing your desktop or leaving your computer open to hackers.

How To Protect Yourself From Viruses

It's simple to say don't open e-mail attachments from people you don't know, and be very wary even of attachments from people you do know. But in today's business world that's not always feasible. The following steps will keep you safer:
  • Install a good, proven antivirus programme, and make sure you scan and update regularly (that's as vital as even having antivirus protection). McAfee and Norton are among the leading vendors, whilst AVG offers a good free version.
  • Use a firewall. It won't keep out e-mail viruses, but it can stop them spreading. Windows XP has a firewall already installed, but there are many you can use, whether to purchase or download free.
  • Backup your work regularly. That means not just onto your hard drive, but a outside medium like CD or an external hard drive. In the event of your computer being infected you won't lose everything.
  • Learn how to use the spam filter of your e-mail programme. Again, it won't entirely eliminate the possibility of viruses, but it cuts down on the number that might get through. Programmes like Mailwasher allow you to preview your mail before downloading it to your computer.
  • Educate yourself about attachments. If you receive an e-mail from someone you trust with an unexpected attachment, query them before opening the it.
  • Make sure you update all the security patches for your computer's operating system (Windows XP, for example).

What To Do If You Think your Computer Has Been Infected

If your computer begins behaving erratically (at a very slow speed, for instance) or files seem to have disappeared, then you probably have a virus. But don't panic!
  • Backup all important data onto CD, floppy or an external hard drive.
  • Close your e-mail programme, open your anti-virus and update it. Then run a full scan.
  • Your software should be able to identify the virus and in most cases quarantine and then delete it.
  • In the case of infections that your antivirus software can't delete, make a note of their full names, including directories (where they're located on your computer) and extension names. If you're experienced and confident, you can try going in and deleting them manually. If not, take it to a professional who will be able to resolve the problem.
Perhaps the most important things you can do are to be aware of viruses and to use a good anti-virus programme. Nothing can guarantee you total safety, but by taking precautions and using your common sense, you'll certainly be a lot safer.

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
Why not be the first to leave a comment for discussion, ask for advice or share your story...

If you'd like to ask a question one of our experts (workload permitting) or a helpful reader hopefully can help you... We also love comments and interesting stories

Title:
(never shown)
Firstname:
(never shown)
Surname:
(never shown)
Email:
(never shown)
Nickname:
(shown)
Comment:
Validate:
Enter word:
Latest Comments
  • Fari
    Re: How Can I Delete My Profile From Dating Site?
    I would like you to email me and tell me how to delete my profile coz I cannot afford it
    20 November 2020
  • Fari
    Re: How Can I Delete My Profile From Dating Site?
    I would like to delete my vegan dating profile asap
    20 November 2020
  • Susan Smith
    Re: Sky TV Scam
    Just received a call from Newport UK 01633489553. Allegedly Sky, telling me that I have problems with my Internet and it was to be deactivated in 4 days…
    18 November 2020
  • Lynn
    Re: Vishing Scam
    I received an email from Royal Mail regarding a missed letter from HM customs there was a link to reschedule and I clicked on it and it was a form but…
    13 November 2020
  • Rouge1
    Re: Sky TV Scam
    Just a had call from someone for thay for sky calling my my broadband but sky aways asked you got Security question first
    31 October 2020
  • Titch
    Re: Sky TV Scam
    Just had a call from 03450522989 recmy sky maintainance. Saying I was paying far to much a year. We agreed a password. She asked my last 4 fidgets from…
    27 October 2020
  • Sean Trinidad
    Re: Visa Credit Card Scam
    Hey im her for a crediit card i am a bissnise mann and i do a lot of things
    7 October 2020
  • Alimck
    Re: Sky TV Scam
    Just had a call from a very unsure SE Asian sounding woman who sounded as though she was in an exceptionally busy call centre- very difficult to make…
    1 October 2020
  • Andy
    Re: Sky TV Scam
    01822 751059 01875 979762 01848 695282 All in the past week. All claiming to be from Sky tech support. I just hang up. But it's getting really…
    22 September 2020
  • nikasavictim
    Re: Builder's Scams
    Be aware of the company called Nikasa Build & Design. We made a big mistake in trusting them and giving them thousands of pounds in advance for a…
    25 August 2020