Tip & How-To about Computers & Internet
Dealing with the ever-growing onslaught of spam is bad enough, but our Inboxes are also under siege from another threat: viruses and Trojan horse programs disguised as legitimate message attachments, often from someone you know. When you open the attachment, the virus infects your computer, and then, behind the scenes, it uses Outlook to send virus laden messages to people in your Contacts folder.
You can avoid getting infected by one of these viruses by implementing a few commonsense procedures:
· Never open an attachment that comes from someone you don’t know.
· Even if you know the sender, if the attachment isn’t something you expect to receive, assume the sender’s system is infected. Write back and confirm that the sender sent the message.
Some viruses come packaged as scripts that are hidden within messages that use the HTML format. This means that the virus can run as soon as you view the message! If a message looks suspicious, don’t open it, just delete it. (Note that you need to turn off Outlook Reading pane before deleting the message. Otherwise, when you highlight the message, it displays in the Reading pane and sets off the virus. Select View>> Reading Pane>> Off.)
Install a top-of-the-line antivirus program, particularly one that checks incoming email. Also be sure to keep your antivirus program’s virus list up-to-date.
In addition to these general procedures, Outlook also comes with its own set of virus-protection features. For example, Outlook automatically disables certain types of attachments, such as executable files. However, if you want to ratchet up the security level in Outlook, you need to switch to a diet of plain text. That is, you need to tell Outlook to ignore HTML and Rich Text formatting and, instead, display all your messages using text with no special fonts, colors, HTML tags, images, backgrounds, or sounds: just simple, unadorned text where no virus or other malicious content can hide. Here are the steps to follow:
1. Choose Tools, Trust Center to open the Trust Center dialog box.
2. Click E-mail Security.
3. Click to activate the Read All Standard Mail in Plain Text check box.
4. Click OK.
When you receive an HTML or rich text message, Outlook converts the message to plain text when you view it either in the Reading pane or in its own window. The Information pane also includes the following message:
“This message was converted to plain text.”
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