General

Anti-Malware system

Whilst the term 'Anti-virus' is still in common use, the more usual term now is to describe threats as 'Malware'. This includes computer viruses, but allows us to include a range of other threats in the term too. File attachments will be inspected by your Anti-Malware system as they arrive on your computer or are opened. That's why it is very important to keep your Anti-Malware protection up to date daily. If you pay for your anti-malware protection, make sure that the subscription has not lapsed - if it has, you won't get updates and you will probably be infected by a new virus or malware strain that you are not protected against. Why not Join our Email List?

Malicious invitations and 'Phishing'

Emails can contain innocent-looking invitations to visit websites to update account details or collect information. Sometimes, these will be attempts to collect your personal account details and use them illegally to make unauthorised bank transfers or undertake other malicious activities in your name. This is generally called 'Phishing'. Malicious 'Phishing' emails can try and tempt you into opening a web page designed to steal your personal details. Try taking a 'phishing' test now

Built-in Email Programs

Windows and Mac OSX users have the option of using free email clients - Windows Live Mail in Windows 7/8 and Vista and Mac Mail in Mac OSX.

Alternative EMail programs

There are very good alternative Mail programs available. However, you should bear in mind that any software may have a hidden flaw which might be exploited when and if the vulnerability is discovered. Not every program can be automatically updated by the maker in the way that the built-in Windows components are. No software is ever completely error free. These are the most popular and best supported. Each has a different procedure for setting the connections up - some may offer to import settings from another mail program already configured which makes the process of switching much easier.

Mail Certificates

You can set up a 'Digital Certificate' in your own name which you can attach to messages to prove they come from you. This doesn't stop people pretending to be you and sending out spam in your name, but it may be useful for a close group of friends who want to be sure that messages they receive from each other are genuine.


SPAM

About 40% of email circulating on the Internet is SPAM - that is email you didn't ask for and don't want. Some of it represents an attempt to advertise legitimate products, but most is malicious. These sites explain more about the origin and operations of SPAM.

Luring you to fake websites

SPAM can be designed with a 'socially engineered' message and a link to lure you to a malicious website. On visiting the site, a 'bot' may be planted on your machine to record everything you do - for example to capture keystrokes that you use when banking online. These are batched up and sent to a criminal group who use the details to pretend they are you - making illegal money transfers and purchases with your details. You might be lured to a fake website designed to look like the login page for your bank - it's very hard to tell the difference, though if you secondary-click a web page and review its full 'properties', you may find that it looks quite unlike the one you thought it ought to be. It may for example be a .org domain instead of the more appropriate .com.

Subverting your computer as a relay for more SPAM

Some SPAM messages contain hidden code which leaves your computer running apparently normally - but in fact acting as a mail and spam relay, and source of new spam. Such activity is designed to create 'herds' of 'Zombie' computers - which are managed by people known colloquially as 'Bot Herds'. They sell the details of compromised machines on to criminal gangs for use in their illegal activities.

Reducing SPAM

You can subscribe to a variety of SPAM filter utilities which can reduce the number you receive - and which flag those that are detected so that you can ignore them or delete them automatically.

Giving out your email address

If you want to buy something online, you will have to give out your email address for the reply. If you subscribe to 'one of the services below, you can set up an 'alias' address just for that transaction - and delete it once you have completed it. If the address is ever harvested by a Spammer, it won't work.