by Eric Lee
Those of you who have email may have had a nasty surprise or two in your Inbox this week. The Badtrans-B virus was one of the very worst to spread through the Internet and is typical of a range of new and more powerful viruses which specifically exploit weaknesses in Microsoft email software, particularly Outlook Express.
Chances are, that's the email program you use. The reason is that if you own a computer which runs Windows, this is the email program it came with. As most people have absolutely no idea how to install a different email program on their computers -- or even that there are different ways to send and receive email -- they stick with what they have.
The result of Microsoft's unchallenged dominance over computer software is the growing vulnerability of the net to especially nasty viruses which exploit vulnerabilities in Microsoft products.
Outlook Express has a tendency to send out such viruses automatically to everyone in one's address book -- or even, it appears, to everyone who sent one a message.
I've received dozens of virus-infected emails this week, but fortunately they've had no effect on my computer as I have a very decent anti-virus protection installed (and continuously updated).
The best known anti-virus software comes from Norton and McAfee, but you can find over 150 different anti-virus programs at http://www.download.com, many of them absolutely free of charge. The most popular free anti-virus program is the AVG Anti-Virus System.
And as I don't use Outlook Express, viruses that reach me, stop on my PC. I don't spread them around.
I encourage everyone reading this to help break the power of the virus writers and of the Microsoft monopoly by switching over to other, better email programs.
The venerable Pegasus Mail -- possibly the most popular non-commercial email program for Windows -- has just released its long awaited version 4.0. For details and to download a free copy, go here:
But there are loads of other alternatives, and here's a comprehensive list:
Hope this is helpful -- and wishing you a virus-free week.