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Active Web Hosting Newsletter January 2007

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Email Rejection Notices

Handling Email Notices and Viruses

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Handling Email Notices and Viruses

We have been noticing questions regarding E-Mail message rejection notices recently. These notices look very official but we have been noticing that many are actually forged. This means that there was no actual error in sending E-Mail. In fact, you may not have sent an E-Mail to the alleged recipient at all! These are usually used by spammers to harvest your E-Mail account when you try to reply or forward the E-Mail back to the party that sent it to you. Sometimes, however, the E-Mail may even carry a virus. These forged rejection notices can also fill up your inbox quite quickly if you are getting a lot of them. In this article, we'll be giving you some tips on what to do to stop them, how to tell if the E-Mail is legit without placing your computer at risk, and also how to protect yourself against E-Mail viruses. According to statistics at Threat Watch, E-Mail viruses are still a major problem. It is important that you take steps to protect yourself.

Forged Rejection Notice or Spam?

A rejection notice is usually sent to the sender of an E-Mail message if there were problems delivering the message to the recipient. If you did not send the E-Mail yourself, then it is safe to bet it is a forged rejection notice and you should delete it without opening it or reading it. What if you have a forum online that allows members to E-Mail each other? You might not know if it is a result of someone on the forum sending an E-Mail to a problem address or if it was forged. One thing you can do is set up an E-Mail account specifically for the forum messages. Any other E-Mail accounts getting rejection notices that are not sent by you specifically would be suspect.

Stopping Forged Rejection Notices

These messages can fill up a mailbox. Usually they are sent to the postmaster. All Active Web Hosting customers get one postmaster E-Mail account per domain. There is a way to filter your Postmaster account so that you can no receive any E-Mail via that account. Why would you want to do this? Because this way you can be sure that these messages do not fill up the inbox on the Postmaster account. So why not remove the postmaster account? Sometimes you may need to use that account to send E-Mail. This will, in a way, protect your postmaster E-Mail account. For more information on what a Postmaster account is, please see our FAQ titled The Postmaster Account: What It Is And How To Use It.

Preventing E-Mail Viruses From Entering Your System Through E-Mail

In addition to not opening forged rejection notices and filtering them out completely, it's best to also have an up-to-date virus scanner which automatically scans your E-Mail. One such scanner is AVG Virus Scanner from Grisoft. This scanner is free for personal use and does a good job of scanning E-Mail messages for viruses.

For complete information on how to protect your system from viruses of any kind, we recommend you take a look at Trend Micro's House Call Web Site.

One more very important thing you can do to prevent viruses from entering your computer is to never open an E-Mail message from someone you do not know. Some E-Mail programs may open them automatically for you, however. You will need to change the E-Mail reader's view or layout so that the part of the screen that displays the E-Mail is not showing. For example, in Outlook Express, you would go to the View menu and select Layout. Then uncheck Show preview pane.

If you are ever in doubt about an E-Mail message, don't open it by double-clicking on it! Better safe than sorry. One way to see if it is legitimate is to view it in plain text, where the computer will not be able to run any attachments. Attachments are stored in plain text but automatically decoded by your E-Mail reader as soon as you double-click on the message to read it. There is another way to open the message safely so that the attachment isn't decoded. This is done by viewing the message source. For example, in Outlook Express, you would click on the suspect E-Mail once to select it. Then click on the File Menu and select Properties. On the Details tab, click on the Message Source button. Scroll through it. If you see it is not a rejection from an E-Mail that you sent, or you see a bunch of random characters anywhere in the E-Mail then it's suspect and should never be opened the normal way. Close the Message Source windows and then delete the E-Mail message. By viewing the message source, you protect your system from automatically decoding and activating any part of the E-Mail. Sometimes you can just look at the headers without even looking at the message source (depending on the E-Mail program you are using).

Whatever the reason, always be sure to never open any E-Mail messages by double-clicking on them if you do not know who they are from and/or are not expecting anything from the sender.

 

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