Mar 17, 2010

Keep Your E-mail Healthy: Protect Yourself From Viral Infection

by: in Email

Having an e-mail system that isn't properly protected is like going outside on a cold winter's day in shorts and a T-shirt. You're just asking to wind up with a nasty virus that makes your network vulnerable to an equally nasty infection.Taking some basic precautions, however, will make sure your e-mail won't need a visit from the IT doctor. There are different levels of protection you can use to keep yourself safe from e-mail viruses.First start on the individual machines themselves. Each should have some kind of anti-virus scan that screens e-mails as they come in. This scanning application would inspect each e-mail and make them virus-free or at least send you an alert if something suspicious has been identified.

The next step out would be on the actual server itself.On your e-mail server, have all e-mail attachments scanned.This won' necessarily be a scan of the entire server, just all the e-mail traffic. The scan would be on the lookout for any kind of virus activity, malware, or anything else that might pose a threat.

Then there's one final step out that would block anything suspicious before it even gets to your e-mail server. This can be accomplished using something like Barracuda's spam firewall or Cisco IronPort e-mail security appliances. What these do is actually scan the e-mail and reject anything potentially hazardous at the point of first entry.

It's a best practice for any company, regardless of size, to have all three of these levels of protection in place in order to keep its e-mail system virus-free. Not having this kind of safety precautions in place can result in some unpleasant scenarios. For example:

Keyboard Logger: Someone can put in a keyboard logger which they can then use to watch your activity on your computer. With this secret access, they would be able to know a lot of about what you are doing, including what your most security sensitive passwords are.  What's worse, the logger could be running in the background, leaving you in the dark that somebody was able to monitor your every keystroke.

Malicious Spambot: You could have you computer actually completely taken over and used for malicious purposes. Someone could seize control and use it as a spambot or some other kind of bot that does something bad to other users.

Hardrive Corruption: A fairly common scenario involves the corruption of your hard drive, preventing you from being able to boot up.  What's worse, if the virus replicates and spreads to other computers in the network, it can result in an entire network going down.

All of these scenarios come with a high cost in time and money to remedy but all could be avoided with some really easy precautions.; It's much cheaper to protect yourself before the problem happens that deal with it after it does, especially when there are inexpensive and even free options available. Avast and AVG, for example, offer free solutions for PC protection, which can be very helpful for a small business with a tight budget, and LEAP itself can provide server scanning and server protection applications to help keep your e-mail free of infection.So take the steps to keep your e-mail system properly "bundled up" and make sure your network can stay safe, sound, and healthy.