Experts warn: Beware of suspicious e-mail

You should protect your computer files from a new security flaw that has been discovered, as well as other potential attacks by computer hackers, experts say in a Reuter article.

Their warnings followed the discovery of a hole in some of the most popular e-mail programs, which some experts consider the biggest computer security problem to surface in a decade.

The flaw, discovered by computer security experts in Finland, affects two Redmond, WA-based Microsoft e-mail programs - Outlook Express and Outlook 98 - as well as Netscape's Web browser.

The problem is with e-mail "attachments," commonly used in electronic correspondence to send background files or additional information. But unlike other flaws, which allow attacks only when the user actually runs the offending attachment, users with this flaw in their systems could potentially be attacked without even opening the files.

Although both companies moved quickly to correct the problem, they recommend that people learn about some of the hazards inherent in using e-mail and think twice about reading files from unknown senders.

Microsoft officials said the company had posted a "patch" to correct the flaw and had more information available on its Web site (www.microsoft.com/ie/security). Netscape also should have a patch available now.