Email viruses are slightly different than most viruses, because they can't replicate without help from you. Though there are a few viruses that can, these are not seen very often. The ones that do need your help, however, are getting harder and harder to identify by simply being more careful. Let's have a look at why you need antivirus software for your email.
When you get an email from someone you don't know and it has an attachment, it's fairly easy to guess that it's harmful. Even in these cases, there are people who fall for the trick and get a virus in the process. However, more and more viruses are being sent from an individual's account to his or her contacts. Because of this, people are more likely to open the attachment, since it comes from someone they know.
The name of the attached file can also differ widely. This means that you can no longer tell if it's suspicious or not simply by looking at the name. You might think it's something genuinely sent from your contact.
If you open it, the virus can do a variety of things. It might erase files on your computer. Alternatively, it could change your desktop. Regardless of its actions, it will typically use your account to send itself to your contacts. This is how it keeps itself out there.
There are certain worms that can infect your computer even if you don't open the file they come in. For these, it is enough to simply open the email, and the worm will be set free. In most cases, it won't take its course until after you've restarted your computer. This means that you won't even be aware of its existence. However, once it starts, it will send itself to people on your contact list.
You might be thinking that if a virus' sole purpose is to send itself from your account to your contacts, it's not that big of a deal. If you're thinking this, you're wrong. Even if the worst thing the malware does is send itself out, it creates spam for your contacts, and nobody appreciates spam. The matter becomes even more serious if your boss is one of the recipients.
However, many viruses have other purposes as well. Sending themselves through your email is just one of the things they might be programmed to do. In addition, a virus might affect your computer by creating damage that cannot be repaired. Even this, however, seems a slight damage compared to that made by spyware, which can lead to identity theft.
It is becoming quite difficult for individuals to know when an attachment contains a virus and when it doesn't. Add to this the fact that a lot could be at stake, and you've got yourself a good reason to get antivirus software. Having it will keep you safe from malware attacks, and it will also take away the stress associated with checking your email.