[nafex] Computer health/viruses/attachments

Lon J. Rombough lonrom at hevanet.com
Sun Jul 29 17:04:59 EDT 2001

Two things that might help.  Members send text items IN the letters as text,
and have a separate site where pictures can be downloaded for viewing by
anyone who wants to see them.  That eliminates need for attachments pretty
>From: "Greg Miller" <gsmiller at cet.com>
>To: nafex at yahoogroups.com
>Subject: [nafex] Computer health/viruses/attachments
>Date: Sun, Jul 29, 2001, 3:00 PM

>It seems that a rather nasty virus was recently posted to this list  as an 
>attachment.  Like many modern computer viruses, it is  activated when the 
>attachment is opened.  The problem (and the  solutions) come down to a 
>convenience vs. security question. 
>In the past you had to actually RUN an attachment to activate the  virus, 
>but many of the "improvements" to the Windows operating  system that 
>improve ease of use make the system vulnerable to  certain types of 
>attachments.  In the past certain DATA files were  merely associated with 
>an executable file on your computer; now  there are macro, script, and 
>information files that in many respects  act as executable files, so that 
>"opening" what might seem to be a  data file actually runs a PROGRAM that 
>in some instances can  carry a viral payload.  Automatic running of files 
>is VERY  convenient, but potentially dangerous. 
>The question is what to do.   
>Ban the person who posted the attachment?   
>    Temporary suspension might have some merit, but I'm not  inclined to 
>permanently ban anyone as typically these messages  are not deliberately 
>posted to the list.  In any event I can't monitor all  postings in real 
>time, and much of the damage can potentially be  done before any suspension 
>is accomplished.  As an aside,  hopefully some of the energy generated in 
>replying to this problem  was channeled into notifying Kevin that the 
>problem existed (I did,  but 3 days after the fact.)   
>No attachments to the list? 
>    Tom Olenio suggested this idea, and it has some merit, but  there comes 
>that convenience factor again.  Some group members  (including one very 
>active member) participate primarily through  email alone, so accessing a 
>web site is either inconvenient or  unworkable for a variety of reasons.  
>Also, accessing the web  site takes some additional effort (which will 
>certainly exceed some  subscribers threshold) and will result in less 
>replies to a "what's  eating my plant?" type question.   
>**I am however, inclined to give this one a try after a suitable  period 
>for those OPPOSED to voice their case for leaving as is.** 
>Subscriber security. 
>    Hmmm.  The world has changed in many ways, and in many  places you 
>can't leave your house or car unlocked, or set down  your wallet and expect 
>it to be there when you come back.  The  internet is one of those places, 
>but it's even worse than the real  world because people you know and trust 
>can be duped into  causing you harm without ever implicating the original 
>I would advise everyone to check out the many resources on the  internet 
>about viruses and security.  Here's a brief summary of  what many of those 
>sites will say.  (IF you have questions, search  those sites for more info!) 
>1.  Beware of any email attachments that you are not expecting.   Typically 
>viruses will contain generic message like "here's that info  you wanted" as 
>opposed to "here a photo of what's been chewing  the terminal leaves of my 
>Granny Smith apple" along with other  descriptive info.  On the flip side 
>when you are sending an  attachment, refer to its presence in the body of 
>your message, and  do something to "personalize" the message specifically 
>for the  recipient. 
>2.  Beware of convenience settings in your operating system and  email 
>programs.  This is especially true if you use the mainstream  programs like 
>MS Outlook, which virus writers will sometimes  specifically target because 
>of its broad user base.  I have the "Hide  file extensions for known file 
>types" unchecked in Windows  Explorer, and I NEVER enable macros or 
>automatically open  attachments even from someone I trust, because there 
>isn't a need  for me to do that.  Less convenient, way safer.  I also use 
>an email  program other than MS Outlook--Pegasus email in my case (it's 
>still  free!) or Eudora are two I would recommend. 
>3.  Be security conscious.  A virus program that runs in the  background is 
>a good start (but only as good as the last update!)  and I would also 
>recommend a firewall program like ZoneAlarm  (www.zonelabs.com) which 
>monitors OUTGOING traffic (good for  Trojan horse programs).  And way down 
>on the convenience  scale, and one that is good for computer crashes (where 
>I learned  the lesson) as well as data distruction by viruses, is regular  
>computer back ups--especially for data! 
>Greg Miller 

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