Here is some information that will hopefully help protect you from opening attachments, websites, etc that may contain viruses.
Viruses and spyware (together called Malware) can cause very serious consequences including:
Deletion, theft and corruption of data
Monitor which websites you visit in order to target you with advertisements
Send spam email or viruses from your computer
A slow or unusable computer
The writers of these viruses now use ‘Social Engineering’ techniques to convince users to click something in an email or web page they shouldn’t.
Here are a few questions one should always ask if something looks suspicious:
Who is contacting me here? (Remember, most contact details can be found on the Internet)
Why are they contacting me?
Was I expecting this email?
Is the way they are contacting me normal for this company?
Is the information they are requesting sensitive?
Is there a way to verify that this is indeed this person?
Here are some general tips to be aware of to help prevent risks:
Never open any files attached to an email from an unknown, suspicious or untrustworthy source. Even if it is from someone you know, the attachment may have been sent by malware on their computer, so you could call the company directly to verify it is genuine. If in doubt, delete it.
Never reveal personal or financial data including usernames, passwords, PINs, or ID numbers.
Do not readily click on links in emails from unknown sources. Instead, roll your mouse pointer over the link to reveal its true destination. Beware if this is different from what is displayed in the actual text of the link from the email.
Beware of any download. If you don’t know the sender personally AND are expecting a file from them, downloading anything is a mistake.
Don’t download “free ringtones”, “free smileys”, and toolbars unless from a source you know and trust.
If you receive a phone call requesting confidential information, verify it is authentic by asking for a full and correct spelling of the person’s name and a call back number.
Do not attach external storage devices or insert CD-ROMs/DVD-ROMs into your computer if you are not certain of the source, or just because you are curious about their contents.
Avoid clicking on pop-up advertisements – close them instead
Pay attention to the URL of a website. Malicious websites may look identical to a legitimate site, but the URL may use a variation in spelling or a different domain (e.g., .com vs. .net).