Monday, March 28, 2011

9 Ways to Spot an Email Virus or Dangerous Attachment

I just got a great email question from my friend David Reinhardsen of Hudson Photo Works. In it, he was trying to figure out if a chain letter email he got was legitimate. The text that was passed along read like this:
...You may receive an apparently harmless e-mail titled "Here you have it" If you open the file, a message will appear on your screen saying: 'It is too late now, your life is no longer beautiful....Subsequently, you will LOSE EVERYTHING IN YOUR PC, And the person who sent it to you will gain access to your Name, e-mail and password...
I responded that a good way to check if an email chain is valid would be to verify using They are a good independent source to determine if you're getting your leg pulled, or worse yet - something else. :-)

In this particular case, the chain email was indeed a hoax, as verified here:

However it's always good to be safe rather than sorry. Generally it is a good idea to be careful of attachments and web links from strange places. When you get an email from someone, if there is an attachment or a link in the email, pay close attention to the following (color coded for your viewing pleasure):

1. Is the item addressed just to you, or to many, many people?
2. Is the link or attachment's contents clearly explained?
3. Were you expecting something from that person?

4. Do you know the person who emailed you?
5. Is the link or attachment's contents clearly explained?

6. Is the text of the email very vague, like "Check this out"
7. Is the text misspelled like it was done by a 1st grader?

8. Is the file attached an executable file (does it have a .exe. extension)
9. If you put your mouse over the link, does the address it shows look like a really, really weird link, like (That's just an example)

The darker the color on the numbered items above, the more likely the danger. Items 8 and 9 are very dangerous!

If one or more of these things occur, stop before you open up the link or attachment. in that case, the best practice is to contact that individual (call or a new email - not reply back) and find out what is going on with that attachment.

As always, try to use your gut instinct.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Death to Internet Explorer 6

For those of you on Internet Explorer 6, we encourage you to check this website out - straight from Microsoft:

Before I start ranting and raving like a lunatic, I'd like to thank Ryan Trotz, developer extraordinaire for pointing me to this website.

We at Rockland Web Design HATE (with a passion) Internet Explorer 6. It's 10 years old, and Internet Explorer 7, 8, and now 9 (for Windows 7) have come out. If you're worried about security, don't be -- the new browsers are just as secure (or more) than this legacy browser that does not even have support from Microsoft anymore. Imagine driving around an old car that doesn't have any parts available for it when something goes wrong on it. THAT is IE6.

Worse, web designers across the globe have to backwards code all their designs with the premise that someone, somewhere will be using this browser. It's nothing against them, but the downside for the customer is that new, innovative features that can be used in a website cannot be added, because IE6 will not support those new features.

If I sound passionate about this, you better believe it. One prominent developer recently indicated to me that he spends 20% of his time coding backwards for this awful, awful bane of our technological existence.

Anyway, PLEASE consider upgrading if you haven't done so already. Here are a few links to some fantastic browsers out on the market that you can put on your PC for FREE:

  • Google Chrome - My favorite. It is light, fast and very customizable.
  • Mozilla Firefox - This browser is the popular alternative for Internet Explorer
  • Internet Explorer - If you are worried about switching to another browser, don't. Just upgrade to one that was created during this decade! LOL
I really hope you click on one of those links. For now we will support IE6. But one day in the near future, the time will come when we can finally put that terrible web browser out of its misery...and ours. And on that day, I shall have a cold, frosty Sam Adams in celebration of a Brave New World.