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4 Jun 2007



Safe Computing, E-mail & Browser Tips


Gensoft - March 2001
by Allan Cole, DistGen Manager

Safe Computing, E-mail Tips & Browser Tips

Safe Computing

  • More than 56,000 virus threats exist today
  • Physical and Hacker Concerns

Parts to a virus program

  • reproducing itself to spread
  • timer/counter - when will it deliver its payload
  • payload to be delivered

Types of Viruses:

  • Boot viruses: place their code in the sector whose code the machine will automatically execute when booting. When the machine boots, they load and run. After they are finished loading, they load the original boot code, which they have previously moved to another location.
  • File viruses: attach to executable program files in such a way that when you run the infected program, the virus code first executes. After the virus is finished loading and executing, it loads and executes the program it has infected.
  • Macro viruses: attach their macros to templates and other files in such a way that, when an application loads the file and executes the instructions in it, the first instructions to execute are those of the virus.
  • Companion viruses attach to the operating system, not files or sectors. In DOS, when you run a file named "ABC", ABC.COM would execute before ABC.EXE. A companion virus places its code in a COM file whose first name matches the name of an existing EXE. You run ABC, and the actual sequence is ABC.COM, ABC.EXE
  • Worm: moves on the back of other files and tries to move from computer to computer and may contain all or just some of the parts of the above virus
  • Trojan Horse: instantly delivers payload when run

Virus Information Libraries

Virus Hoaxes

These are not just harmless pranks. There are a lot of viruses out there. And then there are some viruses that aren't really out there at all. Hoax virus warning messages are more mere annoyances. After repeatedly becoming alarmed, only to learn that there was no real virus, computer users may get into the habit of ignoring all virus warning messages, leaving them especially vulnerable to the next real, and truly destructive, virus. These are still viruses in that they proliferate through people spreading the false warnings. Be sure to check out the warning and not spread these messages. You will not be doing anyone a favor by distributing these messages. Go to these sites to check out such warnings.


  • Make regular backups
  • Be sure to keep 3 or more backup copies and rotate the backups
  • To test the backups procedure, test you can actually restore from the backup

Magnetic Fields

Magnetic fields are a killer of diskettes (fridge magnets, telephone ringers and other motors)


  • Attack or snoop from the Internet
  • Use a Firewall if using any of the high speed connections (Cable or ADSL)
  • ZoneAlarm is a free firewall program for personal use



E-mail Addresses are made up of a unique Userid on a specific Domain Name, e.g., e.g. where:
  • xxx is the User ID
  • @ is a separator
  • is the Domain Name to which the Userid is registered

Purpose of Email

  • Since the purpose of e-mail is to communicate, be sure that you are communicating
  • Write in a manner that the reader will understand and is not offensive
  • Use of shortcut notation is only to be used with people who understand such notation. Go to for a shortcut dictionary if you get stuck on what someone put in a message to you. Some examples are: FYI (For You Information), IMHO (In My Humble Opinion), and AUP (Accepted Use Policy)

Using the Various E-mail Fields

  • Separate email addresses with a comma if more than one email address is put in any of the To:, Cc: and Bcc: fields.
  • To: is for the primary address(es) - may be used by itself or with the other fields
  • Cc: is the Carbon Copy address(es) - may not be used alone, but must be used in conjunction with the To: and/or Bcc: fields
  • Bcc: is the Blind Carbon Copy address(es) - may be used alone or with the To; and Cc: fields. A couple of examples:
Send a message to a business associate and a copy to your lawyer, but the business associate need not know that the lawyer is to get a copy. Put the business associate's email address in the To: field and the Lawyer's email address in the Bcc: field.
Send a message to a list of people. Each person on the list does not need to see everyone else's email addresses and in fact it is irritating to see a page of email addresses ahead of the message.

Replying to e-mail

  • The To field automatically is filled in with the sender of the original message and can be changed to what you wish.
  • Delete the part of the original message not needed in the reply to cut down on useless information cluttering the message
  • Keep the part of the message you will be replying to, to assure there is no mistaking the original questions wording

Forwarding e-mail

  • The header information of the original message becomes part of the message.
  • Add the email address of those who you are forwarding the message to
  • Add whatever you wish to the message
  • Delete those parts not wanted in the forwarded message


  • Filtering emails is useful to automate recursive actions, some of which might be:
  • Delete spam
  • Move emails to a specific folder
  • Automate forwarding

Attachments are files to send with an email

  • Pictures
  • Documents, Databases, Spreadsheets and other files.
  • Questions to consider:
    • Does the receiving computer have the software to use the incoming attachment.
    • Does the receiver really want the file
  • Unfortunately attachments are sometimes used to spread viruses. Be very wary about opening an attachment. If you have a good virus program this is less of a problem.

Distribution Lists

  • Lists of many email addresses to send a message to at the same time
  • Requires you ask to have your name put on the list - subscribe to list
  • Requires you ask to have your name removed from the list - unsubscribe from list
  • Each list is usually associated with a specific topic
    • , Genealogy for Calgary and area researchers
    • - several genealogy lists

Browser Tips


A browser is the interface between the user and the Internet. The two most popular are Internet Explorer and Netscape.

Surfing the Net (Internet)

  • Internet Explorer uses the Address field to input known addresses
  • Netscape uses the Location field to input known addresses
  • Web addresses or URLs can be found in Newspapers, Magazines, TV, Radio, Billboards... The URL (Universal Resource Locator) is the unique address on the Internet and is in the form or
  • Use the web pages and click on the various hot links until you find what you are looking for. These are usually colored differently to the rest of the text. The mouse will display a hand when it is pointing at a hot link.
  • Use the search engines

Search Engines


  • Be aware that some downloads are very large and will take some time to transmit
  • Put the download in a logical place on your hard drive so you can find it later.
  • Be sure that your virus protection is running before you open a download


  • Be sure you are where you want to be
  • Ensure you are on a secure connection before giving personal or financial information
  • Be especially careful about giving your credit card number
  • Note - Be wary of the wording on some forms asking you to accept email:
    • If you would like to be on our mailing list the check the box
    • If you would not like to receive mailings from us please check the box