Safe Email Practices

or "How To Avoid SPAM & VIRUSES"

Rule #1:

Any email message you receive which includes an attachment might cause problems for your computer. Therefore, if you receive an email message containing an attachment, and did not expect it, or don't know the person its from personally, do the following;

  1. DON'T TOUCH THE ATTACHMENT. Don't open it, don't view it, don't save it to disk.
  2. Contact the person who sent it to you and verify they actually sent it to you.
  3. Ask them what it is, specifically.
  4. If you are at all unsure about it, contact the person you turn to if your computer is acting up. If you're in an office, contact your Network Administrator. If you are at home, contact your ISP (Internet provider). DO NOT SEND THEM A COPY OF THE ATTACHMENT, describe it to them and then wait until they ask you for it.

Rule #2:

If you are going to send someone an email message and include an attachment yourself, then do the following;

  1. Before you send the message with the attachment, ALWAYS send the recipient a message telling them you are about to send them an attachment. This will, at least, let them know to expect a message with an attachment from you.
  2. Avoid sending messages with attachments that contain executable code (codes that run things), like Word documents with macros. Instead of sending them a .DOC file, send them a .RTF version. This will avoid the embarrassment of you sending them a virus if you are already infected.
  3. Run an Anti-virus product, but don't rely on it to completely protect you. Specifically scan any file you are going to include as an attachment in an email before you send it to someone else. You may be sending someone a virus that has not been seen before by your Anti-virus vendor, so it may not be able to tell its a virus.

Rule #3:

email viruses and worms generally use the email addresses collected from emails in your inbox and sent mail folders. When sending email to a large group of people do the following;

  1. Set the "To:" field to your email address
  2. set the "BCC:" field to who you want to send the email to. This is "Blind Carbon Copy" meaning the other recitants will not recive a "List" of email addresses. This helps by not giving those who are infected with a emailing virus or worm a list of others to send the virus or worm to.
  3. Make Sure you used BCC and not CC. CC will still send the list of addresses

Rule #4:

Keep your mailbox clear. when using offline email clients such as Outlook or Thunderbird, any messages that are in the folders contain email addresses; as well as the contact address book they keep. viruses and worms use these to send themselves.

Consider using an online "Webmail" service if you want to store your messages. gMail offers 7 Gigabytes of storage for free, and also has a great contact manager as well. Use of "Webmail" instead of an offline email client protects your friends from your conputer sending them viruses and worms.

Rule #5:

Forwarding Messages!!! DON'T!!!

If you must forward a message then be kind enough to remove ALL other email addresses from the "Orignal" text. This keeps your friends email addresses private...

Always err on the side of using email safely.

This problem is not going away. You need to think of this like you think of locking your doors at night, or like you think about riding a bike on a busy street. There are safe ways, and unsafe ways, be smart, ask questions, and think before you click on things.