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Protect yourself from various forms of "malware" viruses, ad-ware, spyware etc. BECAUSE... the goal of an attacker is to install a Trojan on your machine that will allow them to control your machine.

Step-by-step Virus removal instructions.

They turn it into a Zombie machine - not under your controL NOW YOUR COMPUTER is under their control. Hundreds of thousands if not millions of machines are "owned" by someone other that the user sitting in front of the keyboard and monitor. These bad people control your PC, grab your passwords, and get lots of machines together to organized DDOS attacks and jump from machine to machine to machine in order to hide their tracks. Trojans are also used to mess with you. You now own a zombie machine, so they can surreptitiously turn on the Webcam of your computer in order to watch you work, or watch what you type on screen and then send you popup messages insulting you. Here are some great articles on what's needed to expunge spyware - and prevent its re-emergence.

BotNets

The #1 virus transmission method in recent years has been via exchanging Microsoft Office documents (especially MS Word documents). This happens because MS Office documents can have "macros" (Visual Basic programs) attached, and these programs can be malicious. Many of the recent spate of e-mail worms have been transmitted as MS Office documents.
To help contain such problems, users should know that MS Word has an alternate file format called "Rich Text Format" (RTF) that does not include the capability to attach macros. An RTF document contains almost all of the same formatting information as a standard Word (.DOC) file. But RTF files cannot be infected with viruses.
Organizations that want to reduce the costly overhead of virus infection may wish to mandate that Word documents are to be exchanged only in RTF form. To save a document as RTF, simply select "File -> Save as" and in the dialog box, select "Rich Text Format" from the "Save as type" field. Think of this as good hygiene: sending a .DOC file should be considered about as appealing as sharing a used handkerchief with a friend.

Unintentional Attachments
My recent experience of playing with a half-dozen or so different email programs and what they can/can't do.

 

How to keep your email off a webpage to prevent a bot from harvesting it.

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