Do Not Open This Email Essay Research

Do Not Open This Email Essay, Research Paper

Do Not Open This Email

“Warning: New virus—Do not delete!” is probably the most common phrase in the subject line of email today. If not those words exactly, then something similar warning people of the most recent viruses circulating through the Internet. There are several ways viruses can be downloaded, but viruses are not the only downloadable nemeses. Thankfully, America Online provides many tips for safety precautions. Learning how viruses can and cannot be downloaded, while educating oneself about viruses and Internet safety, is the best way to protect personal computers.

Viruses are not the only harmful items possible of being downloaded. Programs called Trojan Horses are also detrimental to computers and their users. A Trojan Horse is a program disguised as another program, usually one of importance. Most include programming designed to ask for important personal information, like a password or credit card number. Unlike viruses, Trojan Horse programs do not duplicate themselves or spread to other computers. While both are harmful, viruses are actually different than Trojan Horses. Viruses are programs capable of duplicating themselves. They also disperse themselves from computer to computer. Some are destructive, destroying files on the computer, while others are not truly destructive. They just fill up space on the hard drive, which in turn slows down the computer and causes other programs to not run efficiently. At any rate, Trojan Horse programs and viruses are both hazardous to computers and their users.

Viruses and Trojan Horses can be downloaded in various ways. One way they cannot be downloaded is by simply opening an email. Numerous warnings claim opening an email will automatically download a virus onto the computer. These claims are in no way true. Opening an email cannot download viruses. However, downloading attachments on emails is an extremely common way to get a computer virus. This does include opening an email with pictures in it. Pictures are attachments, which have to be downloaded. A warning will be shown if an email with a picture in it is about to be opened. Another possible means of obtaining a virus is by clicking on the hyper-links contained in some emails. Hyper-links are the blue links which provide shortcuts to different web sites. When the user is transferred to these web sites, some viruses can automatically be downloaded. Though in most cases, not all, a prompt will appear asking if the file should be saved to the disk or run from the current location. Floppy disks brought home can also contain viruses. Even though opening emails is not a way of acquiring a virus, caution should be exercised in handling email.

Safety precautions can be taken to help protect computers from viruses. An excellent weapon in fighting viruses is purchasing a well-known and respected anti-virus program. America Online, known as AOL, suggests checking for updates on anti-virus programs about every two weeks. New viruses are constantly being created. Other methods of protection are also effective. Never download files from unknown people. If the mail is unsolicited, then file is probably not valid. AOL members can set their email preferences to keep from receiving junk email. Also, be extremely careful about downloading material from web sites, including pictures. Most valid sites will provide a notice stating an anti-virus software has checked their files. If it is not clear or the files have not been checked, download the files to a floppy disk. Then scan the disk with a personal anti-virus program. Floppy disks brought into the home should also be checked. Lastly, create back up disks often. If a virus is downloaded, a current back up disk will be extremely helpful. In addition to protecting their computers, AOL members need to immediately report any violations to the proper departments. Never respond to any junk email. Responding to these emails is a violation of the terms of service (TOS). A TOS violation could result in loss of service for the AOL member. Instead of responding, forward all email violations, like vulgar language, to Junk email should be forwarded to Any emails containing attachments should be forwarded to America Online provides its members with many tips for protecting themselves and their computers. All of this information, and much more, can be found at AOL Keyword: SAFETY.

Most people receive email from friends or family members warning them to not open certain email. The common belief is by opening the email a virus could be automatically downloaded. It still may be a good idea to simply delete the unwanted emails or to forward them to the proper authorities, but opening emails cannot download viruses. Viruses and Trojan Horse programs can be downloaded onto computers through email attachments and other various ways. However, by following the safety tips provided by most Internet providers, like America Online, the possibility of downloading a virus is greatly decreased. Staying informed about viruses and practicing Internet safety is the best form of protection against computer viruses.


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