Defensive Computing: Email Safety Tips

The best defense against computer viruses and other malicious software is learning to recognize risks and knowing how to handle them. Fortunately, a few basic precautions can make all the difference in the world.

Email remains one of the easiest ways for your computer to become infected. The danger usually comes via an email attachment. The strongest defense against malicious email attachments is user behavior–knowing what to look for and what to do if you receive an infected email. The following article spells out the tell tale signs that should raise your suspicions about a particular piece of email. How To Spot A Dangerous Email Attachment contains practical information on how to avoid problems with email that may infect your computer.

Keep in mind that an email address can be spoofed. Even though the sender appears to be your dear friend Jane Smith, it’s possible that someone else sent the email (this does not necessarily mean that Jane Smith’s computer or email account was hacked). One of the best rules of thumb is to simply stop and consider any email with an attachment before you open the attachment. Does the email make sense? Would you expect Jane Smith to send you an attachment containing a cute hippopotamus video? If the email does not seem right, it probably isn’t and you should check with your friend before opening the attachment.