Here, Eat This!

Why is it that e-mail borne viruses are so effective? Is it because they are incredibly clever? Are they created by master programmers with unearthly knowledge and skills? The answer is a resounding no. The reason is, unfortunately, because people are incredibly stupid (maybe careless is more appropriate)! I believe that many of these are created to see just how gullible computer users and the public in general still are. The creator sits back in their basement computer cave snickering at what a bunch of losers that they are forced to share the world and deal with.

I'm sorry to possibly insult you and your intelligence but lets face the facts here. We hear the same thing from people who have been infected time after time.

"Gee, I got this e-mail so I opened it. It had this attachment with it so I clicked on it (and fed it to the computer) nothing happend when I clicked on the attachment, so I did this 38 more times trying to get it to do something. How was I supposed to know whether it was OK to open a message or an attachment (and feed it to the computer), I'm not a computer expert"

Lets look at things a little differently, imagine that someone that you have never heard of before named xlYqR7822@hotmail.com comes into your office. They are carrying a package with them and they demand that you open the package and consume the contents of this package. Would you do this? Those who answered yes please register as a contestant for the Darwin awards. Yet when an e-mail comes in, from an unknown, with a package (an attachment), telling you to feed it to your computer, you feel compelled to do it. What ARE you thinking, this is absolutely STUPID! You deserve the virus (not really, nobody does), but you might need to register at the Darwin site.

Let's try one that's a little more difficult. Someone who looks just like someone you know comes into your office carrying a package. They demand that you open the package and consume the contents. Would you do this? If you answered yes to this one you need to visit the Darwin link.

Realistically, are you expecting any package from someone? If a package just showed up on my home doorstep and I was not expecting it I would be very careful, even if it said that it came from the president (or my mom). Actually, if it said that it came from the president I would know it was a hoax. If it said that it came from my mom, I would call her and say "mom, you sent me a package - how nice of you". If she had no idea what I was talking about, and did not have Alzheimer's, I would become EXTREMELY suspicious of the package (THAT I HAD NOT YET OPENED!).

If someone comes to my door at 11:37pm wearing a green uniform, announcing that they are delivering for United Parcel Service and they are carrying a package, do I open the door? Let them into my home? Open the package? Consume the contents? Yes? Let's reason this one out. The delivery company does not make house calls at that time, the delivery company's standard is a different color, and I am NOT expecting a package! This delivery does not carry the earmarks of legitimacy with it. In all likelihood this package will not be something that I want. Do you see where we are going with this?

Some types of packages (e-mail attachments) are programs that are designed to perform instructions on your computer system. Like, delete all files on the computer hard disk and display a message asking if the person has registered for the Darwin awards yet. Is there REALLY any reason that you should be receiving an e-mail that contains a program?

ECS provides hosting plans that enable you to make sure that e-mail attachments that appear to be programs do not enter your office. We also offer e-mail scanning at the mail server making sure that infected e-mail's never get to your office in the first place.

Just using a little common sense when it comes to e-mail will go a long way in preventing the spread of e-mail borne viruses. Check to see if the message has the appearance of coming from an expected source. Find out if the message has a package (attachment) with it. If it does have a package did you verify that the person really sent it (before opening it). Does the message carry the earmarks of legitimacy? Is there any reason that I would want to receive a program, from anyone, in the form of an e-mail.

Next time an e-mail comes in you will be much better prepared for the potential problems that can happen with e-mail that has attachments and the potential for viruses. If you still haven't learned anything there's always the Darwin link!


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Modified 04/19/2005