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How to adapt security settings in Outlook

Outlook 2003 includes an automatic filter that displays HTML emails as text messages and does not download elements from the Internet. To activate this filter, open the "Security" tab in the "Options" dialogue box, found via the "Tools/Options" menu. Under the heading "Download Pictures", click on the "Change Automatic Download Settings..." button. This brings up a new dialogue box. In this, set both main checkboxes as shown below.

Change Automatic Download Settings...

Older Outlook versions can also suppress the HTML view, but this feature requires manual editing of the registry. For Outlook 2002 from Service Pack 1 it is necessary to create a new DWORD with the name ReadAsPlain and value 1, under the key HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Office\10.0\Outlook\Options\Mail.

To provide additional protection for Outlook against scripts, you should display HTML mails in the restricted sites zone as is done in Outlook Express. The required setting can be found in the same "Security" tab in the "Options" dialogue box mentioned above.

menu Tools/Options/Security

To provide protection against malicious attachments, Outlook blocks access to potential malicious file types without any way to unblock the files again. Third-party vendors step into the breach and provide the necessary tools to solve this problem. For instance, the free Attachment Options software complements Outlook options with an "Attachment Security & Options" tab, which allows the user to unblock file formats, as desired, or to add additional types of files to be blocked.

One word of warning: as opposed to Outlook Express, Outlook classifies access to Office documents as safe even though such documents have in the past been used to carry macro viruses.


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