Often our Inboxes seem to contain more in the way of viruses, spam and other
junk than emails we actually want to read. If your email is becoming a nuisance,
then it may be time to consider the features of Outlook 2002 that can help make
your inbox a much nicer (and safer) place to visit. David Peterson reports
The antidote to viruses
There are two main ways that viruses can be transmitted via email:
1) The most common is a virus-infected attachment with an enticing name which,
when opened, unleashes the virus on your computer.
2) HTML email can contain scripts that will execute malicious code even if you
only read the email or open it in the preview pane.
Fortunately, Outlook 2002 will automatically protect you from most email nasties
by blocking suspicious attachments and scripts. To provide an additional level
of protection, however, it is recommended that you adopt the following best
practices for email safety:
- Use Tools > Options > Security to make sure that the security zone
for Outlook HTML email is set to Restricted Sites.
- Visit the Microsoft Windows Update and Office Update Web sites to check
that you are using the latest versions of Outlook and Internet Explorer with
all the latest service packs and security updates.
- Never open an attachment that you didnt expect to receive. If in doubt,
email the sender for confirmation.
- Make sure that you know what type of file is attached to an email. Some
viruses disguise themselves with double file extensions like .jpg.vbs
so if you have set Windows to hide the file extension for known file types
you would see the attachment listed as a harmless .jpg file rather than as
a potentially dangerous .vbs file. Make sure that you can see the extensions
for all files by using Tools > Folder Options > View from any window
in Windows Explorer and unchecking Hide file extensions for known types.
For the particularly security conscious, the GFI Email Security Testing Zone
test) provides a free audit service sending you harmless email messages
that test a range of email vulnerabilities.
Outlook has built-in spam filtering that can be switched
on using the Organize function accessible from the toolbar or from
the Tools menu. Of course, most spammers already know about these filters and
deliberately write their spam emails to circumvent them. Fortunately, in Outlook
2002 you have an additional line of defence with the Outlook Rules Wizard.
The Rules Wizard is a powerful and flexible tool that lets you determine how
Outlook will treat emails based on their sender, content and a number of other
characteristics. An obvious application of this is blocking undesirable emails.
For example, to add a new spam-blocking rule in Outlook:
- Select Rules Wizard from the Tools menu in Outlook.
- Click the New
button to create a new rule.
- Make sure that Start creating a rule from a template and Move
messages based on content are selected.
- Click specific words to add a list of keywords you have commonly
found in spam messages.
- Click specified folder to select where you would like the emails
Filtering spam is just one of many uses for the Outlook Rules Wizard. Ill
be covering some of the others in next months Netsmarts column.