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Can someone invade my computer by getting me to email them?

Posted on 2006-07-11
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Last Modified: 2013-12-04
Can someone gain access to data on my system, or plant something that can transmit my data to them, simply through exchange of emails?
(No attachments to open, simply inbox text).

If someone can, then what do I need to clean up the situation and prevent it from happening again?

Obviously I'm new to security and I suppose this is an easy question.

Thanks.
Biggycat
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Question by:Biggycat
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gidds99 earned 152 total points
ID: 17088853
Not really, however the only possible circumstances I can think of would be where an HTML email was received and the email contained exploit code which targetted a hole in Internet Explorer (components of Internet Explorer are used to display HTML content in Outlook / Outlook Express emails).  This could only happen where the vulnrability in Internet Explorer was unpatched (or the patch had not been applied).

To secure Outlook Express (if this is what you use) here is a guide:

http://www.malwarehelp.org/securing-your-e-mail-client-outlookexpress1.html

Also ensure you apply all Microsoft Security updates (preferably by Automatic Updates) as soon as possible.

Hope this helps.
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Expert Comment

by:gidds99
ID: 17088862
You may also reduce this risk further by using another email client such as Thunderbird or Eudora as there are less known vulnrabilities in these email clients.
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by:ECNSSMT
ECNSSMT earned 148 total points
ID: 17090898
If you are purposefully sending email to them: No.  

If you recieved messages with attachments; and you open or unknowning execute the attachments; it can open up your system to anything from viruses to keylogging and so forth.

Emails with embedded html gifs and jpegs, at least can alert the sending spammer that your email address exists.

If you are faced with a variable that you are unsure of the potentially damaging traffic that is entering and leaving your computer; you may want to take a look at ZoneAlarm Pro; it will notify you of any ingressing or egressing traffic from your PC.  They also have an eval that you may want to take a look at.

http://www.zonelabs.com/

Regards,
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LVL 12

Expert Comment

by:gidds99
ID: 17095975
>Emails with embedded html gifs and jpegs...can alert the sending spammer that your email address exists

As I mentioned above if unpatched vunlnrabilties exist they can also allow an atttacker to take over your PC.
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