Virus and Malware writers are getting better every day, and often, the various antivirus vendors are not able to put out an update fast enough to prevent attacks getting by your security product scanning. It would be foolish and dangerous to expect that every email that has passed through your email security filter is clean just because “I have the latest and greatest antivirus program installed.”
So, how does one detect and deal with malicious email viruses? Note that most of these emails are from “reputable” companies, or from your know friends. Some people often ask the question, “How did the virus senders manage to use our email address?” This is a very easy thing to do, so just because it comes from someone you know does not mean it is safe.
Here are three quick ways to check if an email is malicious.
Outlook detects the email as a potential phishing or unsafe email.
There is an attachment. Seriously! Even if the email came from Telstra or Jetstar or your wife, it may still be a virus. Common unsafe attachments are zip and htm. Less common are exe, although many malicious emails will use a .zip to cover up the exe file.
There is a link. This is a common method of email spam and virus attack. There is always going to be a link, and something sensational or interesting to check out. Often, the links are shortened or they are hidden. Move your mouse over the link to see the real address, and if it doesn’t match what you expect, then it is probably malicious.
So how do we deal with these viruses when they come in?
- DO NOT open the attachment or click on the link.
- DO NOT reply to the email.
- If you have a managed contract for IT services, ask your IT provider to verify the email.
- Delete the email.
The best thing you can do is to be suspicious of any email that comes through, particularly if it meets one of the criteria above. Note that this also applies to social media (Facebook, Twitter) and communications applications like Skype and Live Messenger. Check out this Skype message.