Educating People about Virus Emails

Question: I receive many Emails with strange attachments from people I don’t know. What are these Emails, where do they come from, and what should I do with them?

The IT Guy says:
If your school district is not filtering out spam at the server level, or if you are using a non-district Email service that does not provide spam filtering, you are much more likely to see Emails like those you have described. Most likely, these Emails were automatically sent out by a computer virus that has infected someone else’s computer, and that computer has your Email address in its address book. Sometimes the virus comes from a spammer or hacker wanting to propagate virus Email across the Internet.

You should immediately delete these Emails and not open any attachments sent with them. Opening the Email attachment may infect your computer with a virus or worm. More computer viruses and virus Emails are using “social engineering methods†these days, which mean they attempt to get users (just like you) to do something to an attached file or to your computer and thus “deliver the payload†of the virus, worm, or Trojan horse. Emails that have a zip (compressed) file attached and include a password in the message body are an example: if you attempt to unzip / decompress the file on your computer, you will be prompted for a password, and if you foolishly enter the password provided in the Email message you will launch the computer virus. Password protecting zip files is one way by which virus authors are able to bypass antivirus protection software, which is generally set up to scan attachments including compressed zip files. Password protected zip files cannot be scanned, however, so they can get by the antivirus software.

It is important that school technology departments educate teachers and staff members about the dangers of opening virus-infected Emails, to protect both their own computers and other computers on school networks.

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