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Would you turn the key in the lock to let a hungry tiger into your home? Of course not!

A computer virus sent to your In-Box as an attachment is as lethal as any tiger at the door. The key to keeping it out is in your hand: your computer mouse!

Do NOT click your mouse to open the attachment if it has a filename extension matching the warnings below.

GOLDEN RULE
The secret to overcoming a virus is to
DELETE it before it overcomes you!

Be careful of attachments in all e-mail no matter where it comes from or who sends it or how interesting the subject line is or whatever language it pretends to be.
HAHA is going around all the time in Spanish.
If you open it, the laugh's on you!

Do not open an attachment if you do not recognize the extension or if it looks like a normal extension with something extra added.

Delete that e-mail immediately!

If the extension (three-letter suffix) of a file is:
.jpg
.gif
.bmp
you are safe. These extensions do not carry viruses.

Do NOT open files with the extensions:
.exe
.pif
.scr
.com
.cpl
.vbs
or any other file with an unfamiliar or unusual extension.

These extensions apply to Windows, not only to PCs running Windows, but also to other machines with emulators, such as a Mac running VirtualPC or SoftWindows.

Also, look out for filenames with DOUBLE extensions such as .txt.pif or .jpg.vbs, for example. The REAL extension is, by definition, what's tagged on to the end of the filename, so .txt.pif is NOT a .txt file but a .pif file, just as .jpg.vbs is not a true .jpg but is actually a .vbs file!

Rule of thumb:

DO NOT OPEN an attachment if you are in any doubt of its safety. Delete it! That e-mail may very well be a death sentence for your computer!

You can't always see the real extension of a filename in Outlook Express at least, and probably Outlook. Netscape and Eudora might be a little smarter on that score. This is because Windows HIDES the extension on a filename if that particular type of file is associated with any particular application.

Example: .txt files are associated with Notepad because that's what opens when you double-click a .txt file. The .txt extension is "known" and therefore not shown; thus, a file called TheTextFile.txt will be displayed simply as TheTextFile.

You can correct this dangerous fault in Windows.
Follow the procedure as suggested below by GRS.

In Windows 98 and ME (and possibly 2000):

  • Double click on "My Computer"
  • Go into the "View" menu / "Folder options..."
  • Hit the "View" tab in the middle.
  • You will see several options just below "Advanced settings:" - about halfway down the list there's a checkbox marked "Hide file extensions for known file types" which you must UNCHECK.
  • Click on [OK].

From now on you'll see the full name + extension(s) of files in your computer and of attachments to e-mails.

In Windows 95 and NT 4:

The procedure is similar but the list of options you're presented with is much simpler than that of Windows 98. The one to choose is perfectly explicit.

People who send out viruses like W95.MTX know that Windows doesn't display the real filename extension. They rely on your short-sightedness for their virus to spread. One of the files distributed by this particular virus is "Internet_security_forum.doc.pif" and unless you go through the procedure described above, your e-mail client will not display the whole filename. You will see only "Internet_security_forum.doc" which makes you believe you have a Word (or Wordpad) file.

Given that under normal circumstances a .doc file doesn't display with the .doc extension and that the icon used is either an MS-Word icon or a Wordpad icon, ask yourself these two questions:

1) If Windows *doesn't* display known file extensions, how come I can see ".doc" at the end? ".doc" is always an extension known to Windows (if MS-Word isn't installed, .doc files will open with Wordpad). There must be something else *after* the .doc extension.

2) Why does the file display with an MS-DOS program icon (used to display .pif files) rather than a Word (or Wordpad) icon? It must be some kind of other document.

So, you see, even if you don't deactivate filename extension hiding, you have no excuse for being tricked!


Pewit's Six Points

There are 6 new virus strains discovered daily so here are some recommendations to avoid infection:

1. Install antiviral software - don't just use a one-off scan offered from some websites.
2. Download updates to the software and scan your entire system at least weekly (you can usually configure this to happen automatically)
3. Always scan floppies you receive from someone else and always scan programs (.exe, .vxd. vbx) you receive from someone else, even if you know them.
4. Configure your antivirus software to scan downloads automatically.
5. Check virus warnings you receive with the website of one of the major antivirus software vendors (www.syamntec.com, www.mcafee.com). Ignore messages purporting to be from Intel, IBM, Microsoft, AOL, CNN or any other source other than a major antivirus software vendor - it's probably a hoax designed to spread fear amongst the internet newbies.
6. Don't spread virus hoaxes without checking them first.

Page design by Ben Boxer
Text by Ben Boxer / GRS / Pewit

Ben Boxer - Founder
1934 - 2001