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Email Client Security Settings
Email client settings are only one set of the many settings that are important for Internet security. Make sure you're using the right system and browser setting as well. I've provided instructions for Internet Explorer and Mozilla. If you're using another browser, you should do something similar.

The specific instructions below are for Outlook Express. If you use some other email client or Web mail, these instructions can serve as a guide, but you'll need to figure out the specific details yourself.

Outlook Express settings

Note: Outlook Express 6.0 has improved security provisions compared to previous versions. It's a good idea to upgrade to 6.0 first (by upgrading Internet Explorer, which includes OE) before going further.
  1. Disable the preview pane: This step is the most important and it's simple. Some malicious messages are activated the moment you view them in the preview pane. You don't need to fully open them to infect your computer. Go to Menu > View > Layout... and uncheck the box for "Show preview pane". [illustrated instructions.] From now on, you'll now need to open messages by "double-clicking" them in the message list.
    An alternative to closing the preview pane: If you've upgraded to OE 6.0 and have applied all the security updates you can set it to read email as plain text. That's an excellent way to neutralize malicious content. This setting allows you to examine messages without the hazard of activing malicious content. You may need to temporarily reverse this setting to read some messages that you receive in HTML format though. Or you can save them to your hard drive, and then open them with your browser (IE). Just be sure you know they're good before you do.
  2. Set Internet Explorer to use the "Restricted Sites Zone": Click Tools > Options > Security (tab) in the menu. Select "Restricted Sites Zone" and (if the option is offered) select "Warn me when other applications try to send email as me." [see Q291387 at Microsoft]
  3. You may also want to let OE help protect you from dangerous attachments. Click Tools > Options > Security (tab) in the menu. Select "Do not allow attachments to be saved or opened that could potentially be a virus." Once in a while, you may want to save or open an attachment that IE 6.0 now considers to be a hazardous file type. You'll need to temporarily deselect the second option in that case.

Other email clients

Courier is both more secure and easy to set up than Outlook Express. See how to set up tight security at the Courier page. This and most other alternative email clients offer better security provisions than Outlook Express. They are not the target of as many special attacks either, because they aren't associated with the hated (a common tenet of malcontents) Microsoft.

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