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Chapter 21. Implementing Windows Vista’s... > Protecting Yourself Against Email Vi...

Protecting Yourself Against Email Viruses

Until just a few years ago, the primary method that computer viruses used to propagate themselves was the floppy disk. A user with an infected machine would copy some files to a floppy, and the virus would surreptitiously add itself to the disk. When the recipient inserted the disk, the virus copy came to life and infected yet another computer. When the Internet became a big deal, viruses adapted and began propagating either via malicious websites or via infected program files downloaded to users’ machines.

Over the past couple of years, however, by far the most productive method for viruses to replicate has been the humble email message. Melissa; I Love You; BadTrans; Sircam; Klez. The list of email viruses and Trojan horses is a long one but they all operate more or less the same way: They arrive as a message attachment, usually from someone you know. When you open the attachment, the virus infects your computer and then, without your knowledge, uses your email client and your address book to ship out messages with more copies of itself attached. The nastier versions also mess with your computer by deleting data or corrupting files.


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