Safe Computing Practices
Do Your Part to Protect Our Network
Most modern viruses are simply small programs that replicate themselves after being executed unwittingly by a computer user. They are created by "hackers" for no other motive than malice. To protect the email servers against viruses we employ antivirus software that detects and repairs viruses that spread via email. However, until our antivirus software is updated, we are vulnerable to any viruses that the software is unaware of. It is a perpetual game of "catch-up". So once a newly created virus has been released “into the wild” our only mode of protection is safe email usage.
And so we ask you to heed the following recommendations when you receive email:
- Messages that do not include an attachment are generally safe to open, even if you do not know the sender. If the message does include an attachment be very suspicious of it especially if the text of the message is in any way peculiar (poor grammar or spelling, odd subject matter). If it is uncharacteristically peculiar do not open it until you have verified that it is safe.
- If the message is from a known and trusted person but the text or subject matter does not resemble his or her usual patterns be very suspicious, especially if the message includes an attachment.
- Anytime an email arrives with an unexpected attachment you should verify that the attachment is safe by contacting the sender via email or phone.
- Many mass-mailing viruses send multiple messages all at once. If you see several identical messages in your inbox from the same person or multiple people, simply delete these messages. They are almost certainly viruses.
- Never open an attachment that has an extension of “.vbs”. These files, while useful to programmers and system administrators, serve no purpose to the general user and should never be sent as an attachment. If any message includes an attachment ending in “.vbs”, delete it immediately.
Above all, you should maintain a healthy dose of skepticism when you are emailing. In fact, anytime you access the Internet do so with a bit of paranoia and skepticism. If you have any questions about safe computing or if you suspect a message to be a virus please contact the Technology Help Desk by calling 1-HELP (1-4357).