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Viruses, Emails and Common Sense

OK, so you are worried about Viruses. Good. You should be. They can be nasty, and expensive. That said, it is quite easy to lead a Virus-free digital-life. The very first thing is to use Anti Virus software. If you do not have any, then go and download AVG, NOW.

So you have Anti-Virus software, and you are still worried, as you have been told about an Email, or a new un-stoppable virus, which will delete you hard drive. This is where the Common Sense comes in.

There are usually give-away signs with emails you don't want. Whether it is SPAM Email or a Virus, you can usually spot them. Look at these things in the next few emails you receive (good and bad).

  • Who is it From? Do you know this person? Do they normally email you this way?
  • Do you really know this person? (Yes you know someone called Nicky, but is this genuinely from them?
  • What is the subject? Does it make sense (considering your relationship with the sender)?
  • How have they addressed you in the email? (My best mates would not put Dear Clive, and my business contacts would not put hi m8). Further, companies you do deal with go to grreat lenghts to address you properly.
  • Is the grammer correct for the sender? (I had an email poportedly from Facebook which said "change the password to complicated one" - the bad grammer started bells ringing, but AVG had already deleted the attached virus!).
  • See the list at the foot of the page for more examples.

If you are un-sure about an email, don't open it. Call the sender, and ask if they sent you something.

The next tip could be considered off subject, but is not really. This relates to the hoaxes and scare-mungering which goes on from time to time. You have probably had an email at some time which says "it's coming, and it will delete everything, and it un-stoppable". To date this has never arrived. But if it ever should, you do keep backups don't you? If not, call whoever deals with your IT now. Tell them I sent you; ask for a plan, and act on it! Should the world dominating virus ever arrive, your backups are your ultimate protection.

More tips and tell-tale signs of bad mail.

  • Ensure your email program shows you who the email was TO as well as FROM and SUBJECT. Is it your name or email address listed?
  • Is the email from "Bluemeds from Pfizer", "Alejandro Helms" or the like? (both wrote to me recently, I know neither!)
  • Is the email from you? This technique is used by the bad guys to get around some filters.
  • Does the email ask you to do something you would normally do? - Would your bank honestly ask you for that much detail?
  • Does HMRC normally sign emails "Best Regards"?


As an update to the "end of the world" virus, there is now something which comes close. This is the "Encription" viruses. They deviler a Virus which encripts all of the email on your computer (and any shared folders you may have access to). I saw this infect a computer recently (August 2016) and the results could have been devestating. Off-site-backups saved the day, but if the user had asked the questions above, then no damage would have been done at all.

Be careful, have backups.