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viruses in general . . .

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Robert Rollo asks:

. > curious:
. > i was under the impression that an email itself can not wreak havoc,
. > destruction and damnation upon my hardware and software, only by opening 
. > an attachment can I get in trouble.  is this incorrect ? can viruses "self
. > execute" upon reading of a simple email file ?


>From what I know, e-mail messages *cannot* wreak havoc on your system.  
*However*, binary attachments to e-mail messages *can* contain viruses, and 
*can* automatically execute if your e-mail program is set to 
**automatically** open attachments.  Witness the Mellisa virus (Microsoft 
Word Macro Virus).  The best thing to do is to have your e-mail program set 
so that attachments *will not* be opened and to open only those that you are 
expecting from people that you know.

A. Roger Turk, P.E.(Structural)
Tucson, Arizona

P.S.  If a virus is defined as a program that modifies your computer files 
without your knowledge and takes over control and operation of your computer, 
what does that make Windows?