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How do I use email safely?

Your email

Whether you use email software like Outlook, Outlook Express or Apple Mail, or read your email online through your browser, it's important to be cautious. Certain types of email messages and attachments can be risky.

ZoneAlarm® Extreme Security from Bell MTS can help protect you, and is included with all Bell MTS Internet packages. It provides you with a complete security package, including anti-virus/anti-spam, firewall, easy-to-use PC security, data protection and more.

Download and install ZoneAlarm now.

If you are using other security packages, ensure they are kept up-to-date.

Practice good email habits:

  • Think about whether or not you know the source of an email before you open it or click on links within it.
  • Don't assume that just because a friend sent you a link, it is safe because you trust your friend. For example, your friend's computer may be infected with a virus that sent the email to you.
  • Don't click on an attachment unless you are sure it is safe.
What are viruses, worms and Trojans?

Viruses, worms and Trojans are malicious programs that can infect your computer and change the way it works.

How to protect yourself

  • Be wary of email and instant messaging attachments or files, even if they are from people you know.
  • Scan downloads with anti-virus software before installing them.
  • Ensure your anti-virus software is up to date and reliable.
  • Download and install ZoneAlarm now.
What are junk mail and spam?

Spam messages (or "junk email") are unsolicited and unwanted emails for services and products. These sales pitches may be for anything, including health products, adult websites, software, clothing, financial services and many other things. The products and services may be legitimate, or they may be fraudulent, or the emails may be trying to get personal information from you in a specific type of fraud called "phishing".

How to protect yourself

  • Share your email address only with companies and organizations you trust to keep it private, and avoid posting your email address on website forums or newsgroups.
  • Enable your Junk Mail filter.
  • Don't respond to junk mail.
  • Use an alternative (temporary) email address such as Hotmail or Gmail for non-personal purposes.
  • Distort your email address when posting it online so spam engines can't pick it up, for instance, type "john dot doe at bell dot net" instead of "john.doe@bell.net".
What is phishing?

Phishing is a form of fraud that uses email messages with phony addresses, websites or pop-up windows to gather your personal information, which can then be used for identity theft.

Phishers circulate emails with legitimate-looking logos and design styles and may link to websites that also look legitimate.

For example, a phisher might send an email asking you to update your Bell MTS billing details to keep your account active. The email will ask you to click on a link taking you to a website that looks like Bell MTS, where you’ll be asked for your login and account details.

Or, the email may say you have a computer problem and need to click on or open an attachment to solve it. But if you click on it, you could install something damaging to your computer, or trigger your computer to send your personal information to the phisher.

Phishing can also be in the form of those emails offering money for work-at-home jobs, or asking for help with frozen bank accounts, or offering discounted pharmaceuticals, trips, etc.

How to protect yourself

Here are some clues that you’ve been sent a phishing email:

  • Requests for new personal information, or information that the company should already have.
  • Logos that don’t look right or bad spelling and grammar.
  • Promises of large sums of money if you invest a small amount to help collect it.
  • Work-at-home offers, business opportunities, make-money-fast schemes, credit offers and chain letter schemes.

Think before you click

  • Be realistic; if it seems to be too good to be true, it probably is.
  • Don’t respond to requests for personal information such as your bank account number in an email.
  • Be wary of alarmist, seemingly urgent messages, slightly altered web or email addresses and emails with spelling and grammar mistakes.
  • Don’t forward virus warnings that come with "send this to everyone you know" requests, even if they appear to come from a credible source. These messages are hoaxes, and if they include any links or attachments, they can be dangerous to yours and your friends’ computers.
  • Be aware of the communication policies of the companies you use and what types of messages they will send.
What is mail bombing?

Mail bombing is an excessive amount of email. It could be the same message repeated many times, or different messages from the same sender or group of senders.

How to protect yourself

  • Don't post your email address on web forums or newsgroups.
  • Block individual spam addresses by enabling your Junk Mail filter.
What is email harassment or cyberbullying?

Email harassment is a message sent to you threatening (or implying) harm to you or your loved ones.

Cyberbullying is the use of e-mail, websites, instant messaging, chat rooms, social-networking sites or text messaging to damage someone’s reputation and feelings of self-worth.

What you should do about it

  • Report any harassing messages directed at your children immediately to Cybertip.ca or by phone at 1 866 658-9022.
  • Parents can learn about the changing ways that their children are using the Internet by visiting BeWebAware.ca.
  • Learn about cyberbullying and what to do about it by visiting BeWebAware.ca's cyberbullying page.
  • Block individual spam addresses by enabling your Junk Mail filter.
What is misdirected email?

Just like getting a wrong number, you may accidentally get an email intended for someone else.

What you should do about it

  • Simply ignore a misdirected email message.
  • If you know the person who sent it, reply and tell them.
  • If it happens repeatedly or becomes a problem, block individual spam addresses by enabling your Junk Mail filter.

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