Since 1971, when Ray Tomlinson sent the first true e-mail message between two ARPANET mainframes, electronic mail has gradually become as indispensable as the telephone for conducting business, communicating with friends and family, and reinforcing relationships. Unfortunately, this easy way for people to exchange information is also an easy way for computers to exchange data â data with the potential for wreaking havoc on your life.When you open your computer to the viral payloads and destructive worms that can be carried by e-mail messages, you risk losing your productivity, your personal data, your financial well being, and possibly even your job. Knowing what the stakes are, who wouldn't want to protect himself from the next virus, worm, or Trojan horse that spreads like a disease over the Internet?
In a perfect world, there would be no nasty code to worry about. But these things do exist, and their effects can be devastating. Just as it was hard for people in the early 20th century to fathom the abstract concept of âgerms,â it can be equally difficult for us to wrap our minds around the fact that a relatively small bundle of computer instructions can cause a great deal of damage. First, it's important to understand that viruses, worms, and Trojan horses are three very different things.