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Making Outlook more secure

Until recently all the experts claimed that it was impossible to get virus by simply reading a message. Today this is no longer true. There are a few viruses and other malicious codes that can run on our system by the simple act of displaying the text message that the email contains (without opening any attachment).

The new facilities implemented in mail clients (not only in Outlook, but we will refer to it in this article), have helped make this possible.

To minimize the chances that some of the vulnerabilities of Outlook and Outlook Express can compromise the security of our system we have compiled a set of configuration guidelines and tips that we believe will be useful.

Disable the Preview Pane

Disabling the preview pane prevents the display of a message until we double click on it. We recommend disabling since this will prevent a malicious code from running in the preview pane. Keep in mind that if you double click to open a message you could then open an email with a malicious code still. (We are not talking about an attachment, but simply display the text of the message).

To remove the Preview Pane, go to the menu of Outlook, select the "View" then "Layout". Uncheck the "Show preview pane."

Using Plain Mail

We recommend not using the HTML format in messages sent to you. In addition to the reasons of size, to send formatted messages, backgrounds, etc. an HTML message increases the possibility of the spread of viruses.

To change this setting in Outlook Express 5, proceed as follows:

1. Select the Tools menu, Options, Send.
2. Uncheck the box labeled "Reply to messages in the format in which they were sent."
3. In "How to send mail" check "Plain Text".

In other versions of Outlook, look for similar options ("format for sending the mail," "Plain Text", etc.).

Configuring Outlook Express To Make It More Secure

These options affect the security level of the Outlook and Outlook Express and protect us from the presence of malicious code that could undermine our computer before the arrival of infected messages. Remember, there is no need to open an attachment to be infected today.

To carry out these settings, follow these steps:

1. Open Outlook and select Tools, Options
2. Click on the tab "Security."
3. Select Security Zones and select the option "restricted sites zone (More secure)". Confirm your changes and exit the option and Outlook.
4. Open Internet Explorer and select Tools, Internet Options.
5. Click on the tab "Security."
6. In "Software channel permissions" select "medium-high" or "high security".
7. Click the OK button, confirm that you want to save the changes and OK again to exit the setup.

Install the Required Patches

There are several patches that fix vulnerabilities in Outlook or in Explorer, which can allow the execution of a virus transmitted via email and must be installed.

Update your Windows and Internet Explorer from the Microsoft update product. You can also check out our article about installing updates

Outlook 2000:

Office2000 Updates

Outlook email attachment security update

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