What normally happens is a subscriber's system is infected without them even realizing it. Their email program sends out emails to everyone in their address book without them knowing.
When I get an email that is infected, my anti-virus program, Norton Anti Virus 2002 which I have used for many years, intercepts it and gives me some options to either delete or quarantine.
The regular viruses that I see attached to these emails are:
There are other variations of the above and a couple other different ones that I receive regularly.
If there is any one thing that you should do if you spend any amount of time on the Net and send and receive email on a regular basis is make sure that you have a good anti- virus program. You also have to make sure that you keep it up to date at all times. That is one of the reasons that I like Norton, since it automatically updates and keeps me current with protection against the latest viruses. I am not a distributor for Norton but I highly recommend it to anyone that asks me. It is not expensive. Their web site is at: Symantec.com
The important thing to remember is that you can have an active virus infection and not even know it. If you are trying to run an online business and your potential customers are getting virus attachments with the email you are sending them, they probably won't be customers for too long.
With the many email viruses now active around the Net, you should also make it your practice not to open any attachments to an email if you don't know who it is from. Most of the email viruses become active when you open the attachment. But again to be totally safe you should have a good anti-virus program on your system. You could very well get an infected email attachment on an email from someone you do know since they might not be aware that they are transmitting it. An anti-virus program will give you the protection you need.
The Email Hoax Problem
As far as the email hoax problem, they continue to circulate over and over. When you get one of them you can see that it has been forwarded many times by the number of ">>>>>>" in the left column. Each of these >'s are signifiers of another person forwarding the message.
Some of them are simply jokes and others can cause some problems. Many just cause a tremendous amount of unnecessary traffic like one of the ones involving Microsoft:
"If you receive an email titled "WIN A HOLIDAY" DO NOT open it. It will erase everything on your hard drive. Forward this letter to as many people as you can. This is a new, very malicious virus and not many people know about it. This information was announced yesterday morning from Microsoft;...."
Then there are ones like the "SULFNBK.EXE" hoax. This ones says if you do a search on your computer for this file, you have a serious virus infection and you should remove it immediately and forward the message to as many people as you can. Well this file is a real Windows file that controls certain functions on your computer and you will find it in the Window's Command folder when you do a search. If you find it in different locations then you might have a virus since .exe files are normally the ones that get infected. But the email hoax doesn't tell you that, it tells you that you should immediately remove it if found. And many people do remove it.
Before you pass on any email like this you should check to see if it is for real or not. There are a number of sites that you can check at:
Mining Co.(About.com) Virus and Hoax Guide
Data Fellow's Virus Page
Virus Hoaxes and Net Lore
Rob Rosenberger's Site
Hoaxbusters.org The Big List
Stiller Research Alphabetic Hoax List
What you should do when you have some time is go to these sites and take a look at some of the most common ones so you are familiar with them when you get one.
In summary, make sure that you have a good anti-virus program to protect your system and be sure the information you get in an email is valid before you do something to your computer or forward the message to all of your friends.
About The Author
Joe Reinbold, webmaster of The Entrepreneur's Home Business Link publishes a free weekly email newsletter "Home Income Quarterly E-dition" which is dedicated to assisting online marketers. For a free subscription just mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or visit his site at HomeBizLink.com.