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How to Protect Yourself Against Vulnerabilities in Email Clients

Email is one of the most widely used applications on the Internet due to its convenience, cost effectiveness, and time saving ability. Because of its ubiquitous capability it can be left open to many different types of vulnerability.

There are multiple ways that hackers can attack your email clients. Some of these methods include distribution of malware such as spyware, adware, Trojans, and viruses, to name a few types. Other attacks on your email client can include phishing, spam that is laced with malware, and denial of service attacks which are the result of sending a massive amount of messages to a server causing it to crash. Attacks can also cause a lot of damage to your other applications, data, and ultimately the PC operating system itself.

Protecting Your Email Client against Vulnerabilities

Your computer operating system is used as a platform for your email client. Regardless of what type of client you use such as Microsoft Outlook, Outlook Express, Eudora, or other, there are steps you can take to protect your email client against vulnerabilities.

  • Plain Text: When viewing your email message, use plain text format instead of formats such as HTML or rich text format that can open up your email client to vulnerabilities for hackers to exploit.
  • Automatic Updates: Always use the latest version of the mail client software and make sure you have the automatic update feature enabled.
  • Antivirus Software: Use antivirus software that includes a virus signature for monitoring your email files. Depending upon the program you are using, you often can configure the automatic update for virus signatures.
  • Do Not Unsubscribe: If you receive unsolicited email do not click to unsubscribe to the list as it could contain malware or lead you to a website that is infected with malware. Simply delete the unsolicited message or if it ended up in your spam folder, clear the folder altogether.

  • Administrator: Avoid running your email client under administrator privileges. If this is not possible, try to restrict the privileges while logged on as administrator. The administrator privileges can open up your email clients to exploits by a hacker.
  • Attachments: Make sure attachments are scanned by your antivirus program before you open them. Most antivirus programs contain this feature and will let you know if there is a threat of a virus before you open the attachment.
  • Receipts and Confirmations: Configure the settings in your email client so it does not automatically send return receipts or read confirmations. If an email is infected automatically opening or sending a message could spread the infection to the recipient's email client.
  • Use Encryption: To ensure that confidential information is secure, use encryption fro sending these types of messages.
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