Should I run an update or patch I receive in e-mail?

Updated: 11/13/2018 by Computer Hope
Notification for new e-mail.

Today, many viruses and worms are distributed through e-mail. To help them spread, the virus or worm may make itself look as if it's coming from a legitimate source, such as Microsoft. The following boxes contain a few examples of how these malicious e-mails may look.

Warning, we have detected your computer does not contain the latest Microsoft updates. To help keep your computer updated and secure, run the attached patch.exe file to update your computer.

Microsoft Support Group
[email protected]


Warning, we have detected your computer does not contain the latest Microsoft updates. To help keep your computer updated and secure, visit the link below.

Microsoft Support Group
[email protected]

As you can see, the previous e-mail examples attempt to appear legitimate using various techniques. From appearing to have an official signature, to sending from a Microsoft e-mail account, or even pointing to a URL containing the word "Microsoft." Though these messages may seem real, it is very likely they are not.

The fact is, a large company (e.g., Microsoft, Norton, McAfee, Dell, or Compaq), is not going to distribute mass e-mails to users, especially an e-mail containing a file. If you believe your computer, operating system, or software program needs updates, visit the company's official page to obtain the updates. See the listing of computer companies if you would like to find the official web page of a company.


If you have signed up for a company's newsletter or mailing list, a company may be sending you e-mails. However, it is still very unlikely for the company to distribute attachments with the e-mail.

What can I do to stop receiving these messages?

Unfortunately, these messages are sent from computers infected with a virus or by the virus creator who wishes to spread it. Because your computer is not the infected computer, it makes it difficult to stop these e-mails from coming. However, we have listed a few recommendations below that may help eliminate the problem.

  1. Many ISPs (Internet service providers) help its users by filtering out any virus e-mails or spam from the mail server. You may want to contact your ISP or your company hosting your e-mail requesting that these e-mails be restricted from the mail server or filtered.
  2. Many times this virus is coming from a contact, friend or family's computer that is infected with the virus. You may want to send a message to your contacts requesting they make sure they are up-to-date on their virus protection programs.
  3. If all else fails, setup an e-mail filter or rule with your e-mail client to automatically deletes these messages. This saves you the time from having to manually delete the e-mails, but may not resolve any issues you are having with your e-mail box becoming full on the server.