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Different Types of Email Client Exploits

Regardless of what type of email client you use there are many ways that your email client can be attacked by a hacker with malicious intent. Email clients such as Microsoft Outlook, Outlook Express, Mozilla Thunderbird, and Eudora are all susceptible to vulnerabilities in one form or another. If you are aware of some of the ways in which your email client can be attacked, it will help you to know what to watch for so you can protect your email client against malicious acts.

Different Types of Email Client Attacks

Although there are many different types of exploits that can occur with email clients, here are a few of the main types that will help you to recognize exploits or attempts at exploits when they occur in your email client.

  • Malware Distribution: Hackers with malicious intent can exploit your email client by distributing malware through email messages. The malware includes viruses, worms, rootkits, Trojans, keyloggers, spyware, and adware, to name a few types. The malware is distributed via an email attachment or sometimes by simply opening an email message. More often than not, the mail message is disguised as a message from someone you know when in reality; it is sent by the hacker.
  • Phishing Attack: A phishing attack is generally not hazardous to the inner workings of your PC however; it is designed to trick you into revealing your personal information, passwords, or bank account information. For example, if you use PayPal, the phisher sends you a message that looks like it came from PayPal. The message requests you to verify your account information with PayPal to continue using your account. The message proceeds to tell you that if you do not verify the information your account will be closed. Someone that is unaware of phishing scams easily gets tricked into revealing their account information. These types of messages are set up to look like the real deal.
  • Spam Attack: Spam is unsolicited email or "junk" mail that you receive in your Inbox. Spam generally contains advertisements but it can also contain malicious files. When you click on spam, the files are downloaded into your email client and into your PC. The same thing can happen if you reply to spam in an attempt to get removed from the list.
  • Denial of Service Attack: A denial of service attack occurs when the hacker sends multitudes of email messages to your email client in an effort to block you from using your email client or crashing your computer altogether. In the case of an organization, a denial of service attack on email can crash an entire network and prevent the users from responding to legitimate traffic.

These are the main types of email client exploits that can result in damage to your applications, data, and even your computer's operating system. Additionally, an email client exploit can cause you to expose confidential information and also expose your PC to an endless list of malware that ranges from simply spying on your Web browsing activity to literally destroying your PC components.  If you are aware of how these exploits occur, you can take measures to protect your email client.

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You can protect your computer from viruses without expensive software. Instead, follow these simple tips:

Stay up-to-date on all system updates.

Don't download any email attachments you weren't expecting.

Avoid freeware and peer-to-peer sharing sites.

Use alternative web browsers and email software.