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It is imperative for every PC user to ensure that their email configuration doesn't compromise the security of the system and makes it susceptible to attack from viruses and email worms. Testing your email for security has another advantage — it provides you a clear view of the security threats and makes the process of choosing/purchasing an email security system much easier.
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Testing Email Security Through Online Vendors
There is an effortless and comprehensive way of evaluating the level of email security that your network/PC offers. There are many online vendors of email security programs that offer very useful and free assessment services. Each of them has a dedicated website, wherein you can request a series of free test messages to be delivered to your own email address. These test mails contain executable attachments.
Ideally, they should be removed or at least, should not get run on your system. There would always be a few mails that contain disguised attachments to test the efficiency of your current email security system. Based upon how many of these emails get blocked or get through and get delivered, a free-of-cost report is generated and shared with you. This report contains a brief analysis of your email security settings, their efficiency and recommendations that would make your security settings more effective. One such test is Security Test for GFI
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Testing Email Security Yourself
There are a number of aspects that need to be investigated to precisely judge the security-based performance of your system. However, there are some fundamental checks that you can do yourself.
Attached executable files, like .hta, .vbs, and .exe, contain a number of commands which function in accordance with a set of codes. Presence of such code-executing files increases the possibility of the presence of email-borne viruses/worms that are usually forwarded through attachments. Once the attached file is run, these executable files and can quickly spread within your PC. To prevent this problem, your email system should be able to check emails having:
- Long subject attachments or file names and those with VBS attachments
- File extensions with malformed HTA file extensions (common in Outlook 2002)
Some of the most common email security threats come are:
- Double File Extensions Individual users can guard themselves against such emails if they carefully read the content of the mail. Double extension files have a high tendency of being run by PC users since the .hta component of the file name extension is ignored due to the presence of .jpg file extensions.
- Fragmented Messages Some emails have a fragmented message which is something that should ideally be checked when it is being forwarded through your server. If such messages are still appearing, it means that the anti-virus or content-checking system being used isn't very effective.
Take Care: Emails with Pop-ups — due to the presence of popups with attached files, these emails are particularly difficult to guard against and can bypass many PC security settings.
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How Secure is Email?
An ideal email security system should have a combination of attachment and virus filters and some basic spam filters. This ensures that PCs are protected against executable attachments, viruses that tend to pass undetected through systems with basic security capabilities and spam mails. PCs with an email security system without these safety features definitely need to upgrade their security configurations.