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Undesired Email Flavours: Computer Viruses


This article is a part of the series on undesired email (spam, phishing, viruses, etc.). The material covers the Poisons and the Remedies.

By Stas Bekman.

Published: May 15th 2006

Undesired Email Flavours: Computer Viruses

The third villain is an email containing a virus. Viruses have been in existence pretty much since the invention of the personal computers. But the age-old problem has received a new spin in the 21 century, as almost everybody is connected nowadays, and it's really easy to spread spam via email.

If you are a MS windows user there is no way you couldn't have heard of viruses, Mac/OSX users start getting a few viruses nowadays, and finally for UNIX-flavor users this is not a problem. Viruses usually attack systems that have the biggest amount of users, therefore MS windows users suffer the most.

To add injury to insult, viruses are now spread in the form of worms, which once affecting the target system distribute themselves to everybody in the user's addressbook (or via other methods).

The usual suggestion to the virus problem, is that you shouldn't be opening any attachments, even if the email is coming from what seems to be your mother (since headers could be forged). Unfortunately it seems that there are quite a few other ways to infect your computer via an email, even if you don't open any attachments. I feel your pain, but I don't have any suggestions other than getting off the beaten pass and try a different OS which is less targeted by attackers and is designed with security in mind.

While SPAM, phishing and viruses are quite different in their nature and purpose, certain solution discussed in the Remedies can deal with all of these at once.

Related Links

And here are some pointers for additional information on the subject:


How not to get an email virus (http://www.yourtechonline.com/virus.php)
Some good advices for windows users

How do viruses and worms spread in e-mail? (http://computer.howstuffworks.com/question339.htm)
From howstuffworks.com

Antisource (http://www.antisource.com/)
Brings to you a consolidation of malware articles and alerts, as well as the antimalware solutions to fix and block it all.

Wikipedia on computer viruses

Protecting your Email from Viruses and Other MalWare (http://www.windowsecurity.com/articles/Protecting_Email_Viruses_Malware.html)
The article explains how email viruses work and what you can do to protect your computer and network from them.

Experiments with Computer Viruses (http://www.all.net/books/virus/part5.html)
(1984!). To demonstrate the feasibility of viral attack and the degree to which it is a threat, several experiments were performed. In each case, experiments were performed with the knowledge and consent of systems administrators. In the process of performing experiments, implementation flaws were meticulously avoided. It was critical that these experiments not be based on implementation lapses, but only on fundamental flaws in security policies.

Sophos on viruses (http://www.sophos.com/virusinfo/explained/)

Beneficial Computer Viruses (http://librenix.com/?inode=80)
A rebuttal to the idea of "Develop antiviral viruses (antibodies) that are polymorphic and mobile. Roaming the Internet they would seek out and destroy new viral strains..."

BullGuard Virus Information Center (http://www.bullguard.com/virus/)
Provides detailed information on the most wide-spread and recent viruses.



Related Books

And here you can find books that will provide an indepth coverage of phishing and related material:

Anti-Virus consumer level:

Anti-Virus technical level:

Continue reading about other email-related Poisons or jump into the Remedies section.

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