If you’re using Microsoft Office 2003 – and especially if you’re using Outlook 2003 – you should install the updates released by Microsoft today. You can install them by going to the Office Update page, or by using the new Microsoft Update service.

Your goal is MS Office 2003 Service Pack 2, plus an update to Outlook’s junk mail filter. The service pack installs security updates and bug fixes but does not add any new features. Here’s Microsoft’s description of the service pack.

After the updates, Outlook will have new phishing protection turned on by default – look for a new setting in junk mail options. Links in e-mail messages will be deactivated if they appear to be invalid.

Remember, legitimate companies will not send any unsolicited e-mail message to you requiring a response about your account. They might respond to you by e-mail, if you place an order or initiate an inquiry, but be suspicious of anything that arrives unsolicited, no matter how genuine it looks. Microsoft’s description:

“Phishing is the luring of sensitive information through e-mail, such as passwords and other personal information, by an attacker masquerading as someone trustworthy. Phishing attacks can result in a user divulging sensitive information, including financial information, that can result in a loss of privacy or money. Phishing e-mail is hard to identify, because attackers make their e-mail appear genuine and often mimic recognizable e-mail sent out routinely by legitimate organizations such as banks and credit card companies.”

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