E-cards, e-mails can carry many viruses

I am amazed at the large number of senior citizens in Milam County who depend heavily on the computer for business, entertainment, and correspondence.

One of t he many benef its received from being computer savvy is an e-card. These electronic cards are inexpensive and immediate.

Whenever a family member's birthday slips-up on you, just contact one of the many e-card companies, send the greeting out and the recipient receives the ecard that day.

Today's e-card is a creative mix of customized audio, video, and the sender's voice recordings in some cases. There is a good chance that you will receive one this Thanksgiving or Christmas season from family members or friends.

Have you wondered about the safety of these greetings? Do you open these files without noticing who sent them? Most of us never consider the negatives that may be delivered in the e-card.

The holiday season is the perfect time for e-card scams. Greetings for Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah and New Year's will convey love and best wishes.

However, the legitimate-looking e-card might be carrying spyware, spam or a computer virus.

This could be very embarrassing when your computer displays obscene images, unwanted popups, connects you with adult websites, or sends messages to everyone in your address book that seems to come from you.

One Milam County resident received a Trojan virus and his computer started sending e-mail messages to all the legislators in Alaska. This did not destroy the hard drive but it was difficult to seek out and delete.

Check the spelling carefully for mistakes. Misspelled words send a red flag for you to heed.

Note any errors in the message. Be wary if you do not recognize the sender's name or the name seems to be phony.

The best action is to delete e-cards from people you do not know.

Never open an attachment from any unknown source. You should not download from unknown sources either.

Having a good browser and search engine are essential. Mozilla Firefox is a very secure browser. Keep the program updates current. These updates address new viruses as they are identified. The virus is located, offered for quarantine and/or deletion.

Although items quarantined are harmless to your PC, it is best to delete them immediately.

Some phony e-cards ask you to open a Hallmark attachment or you may see a pop-up ad from America On Line (AOL) asking for billing information. Just for the record, Hallmark does not send e-cards via attachments nor does AOL ask for billing information through pop-up windows.

If you are not familiar with e-cards, you can go to www.hallmark. com/webapp/wcs/stores/ servlet.

Dangers rest with forwarded e-mail as well. Computer cookies are placed in your computer when you visit a website and viruses travel with e-mails too.

Be careful in forwarding emails to everyone in your address book. Spyware can travel with you as you surf cyberspace. It records your shopping preferences.

Cookies are generally harmless, but they do take up space on your hard drive. Cookies and temporary files slow down the computer

Are you very selective in forwarding e-mails to your family members and friends? Do you remove all the e-mail addresses prior to sending the e-mail?

Place your cursor on the first address, then drag the cursor over the names holding the right button down. When the names are highlighted, hit delete. Now forward if you must.

Places to check e-mails for accuracy and truthfulness include, and

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2009-11-26 digital edition

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