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Archive for Monday, April 13, 1998

ATTACHMENTS CAN HARBOR NASTY VIRUSES

April 13, 1998

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I constantly receive junk e-mail. I'm afraid that one of these has a virus. How do I prevent getting this mail before I download it from my Internet service provider? Can I get a virus just by receiving mail?

First off, simply receiving an e-mail will not necessarily give you a virus. Such e-mails are extremely rare.

The key to preventing a problem through your e-mail is not to open any attachments. If you don't recognize the person sending you the e-mail, you should probably delete it. If you don't delete the suspicious attachment, don't double click on it or open it. That could activate a virus that could cause problems with your computer.

What is a punter? Someone on America Online said they were going to use a punter on me, and then I suddenly had my AOL lock up?

A punter is a dangerous program. These types of programs "hack " into America Online's software. Using a punter is a violation of AOL's Terms of Service and could cause cancellation of an account. Usually a punter allows a user to force another AOL user offline by sending multiple messages or by filling his or her e-mail account. At Geeks on Wheels, I have seen many users get burned by punters. The people who write punters frequently put in viruses just for the heck of it and can hack into your computer. I can't emphasize enough how much damage they can do to a computer system. Stay away from punters.

If you do get "punted," the best thing to do is to logoff AOL. If the messages are coming so fast you can't reach the menu, press the alt and F4 key at the same time in Windows, or on a Mac, press the command and Q key at the same time.

-- David Greenbaum is director of Geeks on Wheels. You can send him questions at dsg

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