For Goodness Sake, Use Precautions!
Another email virus trashes the net. We’re surprised?

Wow. The internet is once again being crippled by a ho hum computer virus. And surprise, surprise–it spreads via the Microsoft Outlook address book and by people clicking on attachments without know what they are. Can we have a little more Hollywood formula tragedy, please?

C’mon people. It’s 2004. Face it: Outlook is a piece of non-security crap and has been since its inception seven years ago. It’s always been the biggest security hole in Windows (other than Internet Explorer), and its open-API address book has been used by just about every email virus to propagate far and wide. I know one company that lost about $400,000 due to two Outlook-spread viruses. They still use Outlook! What’s up with that?

Furthermore, if you know anyone who still clicks on attachments trustingly, please tell them to stop. It requires a driving test to get behind the wheel of a car. Perhaps we shouldn’t let people click a mouse without answering a multiple-choice test about some basic computer smarts.

Now Microsoft could take steps to protect us. They could stop allowing people to embed random programs in the middle of web pages and email messages. They could launch attachments in a “sandbox” where the attachment wouldn’t be allowed to muck with the rest of your system. They could even ship Windows with its security turned on instead of turned off, by default.

But they don’t do this. I don’t know why not, but they don’t. So it’s up to us. Practice safe computing, my friends:

  • Never, ever use Outlook. Just don’t do it. Use Eudora or Opera for email. If you must use Outlook, at least don’t store your address book there.
  • Don’t open attachments unless you know what they are and are expecting the attachment.
  • If you’re a techie, check out “Tiny Personal Firewall,” which gives you the sandbox around your programs I mention above.
  • Don’t open attachments unless you know what they are and are expecting the attachment.
  • Use an outbound firewall (e.g. ZoneAlarm at www.zonelabs.com) so if something invades your system, you’ll know it when the something tries to dial back out to the net.
  • Did I mention? Don’t open attachments.
  • Back up your system regularly to something write-only. That means a CD-R, folks–something no virus can destroy. I recommend Retrospect Backup software set to do a daily incremental backup of your critical data files.

Above all, compute safely!

For goodness sake, use precautions!

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