You may do a lot of on your computer. You may do a little.

If you’re a minimalist, you may be wondering how much protection you need online.

“If I have a desktop computer and all I do is read e-mail, is that a high security risk, low or medium?” asked Todd. “Do I need virus protection for that?”

Watch report here:


No Twitter, no online banking, no tickets bought through the Internet.

Some people choose to shy away from the 21st century conveniences and stick with computer basics, like e-mail.

Do they need virus protection?

We turn to Archer International’s Patrick C. Miller for answers.

“It sounds innocuous,” he said. “All they do is read e-mail. The reality is — e-mail isn’t just text anymore.”

It is much more complicated — and much more open to attack.

“Today, e-mail is effectively a web page that is sent to you that you read in a client called an ‘e-mail client,’ but it’s really a glorified web browser,” Miller said. “So, it contains all kinds of active content links.”

The images you see in e-mail are not embedded in your e-mail anymore.

Instead, they’re links to images on a server on the Internet.

“You’re really interacting with the Internet in a very real way just by browsing e-mail.” Miller explained. “And you’re really doing everything up to and including web browsing — just by opening an e-mail.”

So, you will still need some sort of antivirus protection, even if you just read e-mail on your computer.

There are many good free antivirus options, according to Miller.


Images in e-mail are no longer embedded. Instead, they link to an image on a server, according to Archer’s Patrick Miller. Image: imgflip


You can limit your exposure by setting your e-mail client to just plain text.

But that doesn’t cover everything.

If you open any attachments via e-mail, then you would need antivirus, too, because some attachments have malware that could infect your computer.

Electronic mail can be as dangerous as the open Internet speedway.

“You’re not ‘just doing e-mail’ on your computer,” Miller said. “You’re doing everything else. Just like you would be vulnerable browsing the web.”


See other #AskArcher questions:

Should I pay for antivirus?

What scams should I watch for on Facebook?

How secure are security questions?

What is the deal with keyloggers?