Being Safe With Email - Best Practices

February 5, 2015

(For a Printable PDF Version of this:  Please scroll to the bottom and click on the link)

The internet and email have changed our daily lives and for the better in many ways. Unfortunately there is the dark side of computing, which involves people who try and wreak havoc by infecting your computer.  More often than not, email messages are directly responsible for most infections that I see.  Below is a basic list of principles that I highly encourage you to practice when dealing with email.  Please share with your fellow officemates, friends, neighbors, whomever.  The more people that know, hopefully the more we can keep our computers safe and virus free.


Opening an Email:


  1. Do you know who the mail is from?  If you don't recognize the sender be cautious, especially if the subject line is generic (Ie: Hi, Thank You, RE: or some other generic subject line).

  2. If the message has attachments: Never open an attachment if it has a file extension of:

    1. .EXE

    2. .COM

    3. .BAT

    4. A Hyperlink to another website (Ie: http://www.etc...)

  3. Use Extreme Caution when a file extension ends in:

    1. .ZIP

    2. .XLS (Excel Spreadsheet)

    3. .DOC or DOCX (Word Document)

  4. Safer File Extensions:

    1. .PDF (Adobe PDF Documents)

    2. .PNG (Photo)

    3. .JPG (Photo)

  5. If you are unsure of the email, DON'T OPEN IT.  Ask a friend or an officemate to see if they have seen this email before.  If you don't know or are unsure - DON'T OPEN.  Call your local Computer IT person and ask them for advice.  Or use the internet and GOOGLE the SUBJECT line of the email.  If it is a fictitious email, more often than not you will find an article on Google that will indicate that it is a SCAM, or PHISHING EMAIL.

  6. PAYPAL NEVER SENDS EMAILS!  If you receive a message looking like it has come from PAYPAL - it hasn't and it is an attempt to steal your user credentials.  THE IRS NEVER sends communication via EMAIL - EVER.  If you receive an email from the US Department of Treasury, The Internal Revenue Service, or IRS - it is fictitious and most likely a dangerous piece of email.  DON'T OPEN IT.  If you are certain that one of these companies has changed its email policies and that I am wrong, then call them but please don't open these types of email.

  7. Links in Emails:  NEVER click on a link in an email unless you are 100% positive you know that the email you are looking at has come from someone you know and that the message is relevant.  (If Aunt Betty who you haven't spoken to in five years all of a sudden sends you an email asking you to look at her website by clicking on a link) DON'T.  More than likely your aunt's email account was hacked and they are using her address.  Instead, pick up the phone and CALL her.  Find out if she really sent you that email.

  8. Just because you receive an email from a friend or even a reputable business, doesn't mean that it isn't a phishing email.  People's email addresses, and even businesses have their email accounts hacked.  Read the content of the email.  Does the content make sense?  Does it apply to you?  When in doubt call the business.


These are just a few basic rules that when applied can help reduce the risk of infecting your computer or even your computer network.


Always have good antivirus software that is up to date on your computer.  For a review on the latest antivirus software that I tested, please view this post by clicking here.

Please share these tips with others and safe computing.


For a Printable PDF of this document, please click here:




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