Why can email attachments be dangerous?
Some characteristics that make email attachments convenient and popular also make them a common tool for attackers:
- Email is easily circulated – Forwarding email is so simple that viruses can quickly infect many machines. Most viruses do not even require users to forward the email—they scan a users’ mailbox for email addresses and automatically send the infected message to all of the addresses they find. Attackers take advantage of the reality that most users will automatically trust and open a message that comes from someone they know.
- Email programs try to address all users’ needs – Almost any type of file can be attached to an email message, so attackers have more freedom with the types of viruses they can send.
- Email programs offer many “user-friendly” features – Some email programs have the option to automatically download email attachments, which immediately exposes your computer to viruses within the attachments.
Protecting Yourself From Attachments
Opening unverified files attached to emails can be dangerous. These files can easily infect your computer with viruses or malware.
To protect yourself, ask yourself these questions:
- Is it work-related? Is it from a person or organization that you recognize and do business with? If not, it could be a phishing scam.
- Did you expect this file from this sender? It’s a good idea to call the sender directly on the phone and verify they sent it before opening it.
- What is the file type? While all files can be potentially dangerous, files with .exe, .bat, and .com extensions should be treated with extra suspicious.
Taking a minute to think before downloading and opening attachments or clicking links can help you stay safe and secure!
While Mayer Networks has some of the best antivirus, spam, and malware filtering on your email, nothing is perfect. When in doubt, don’t click on any attachment or link in your email. If you have questions regarding an email you have received, simply call us before you do anything with it. We would be glad to give you our opinion. Ultimately together, we could save our technicians time and further safeguard company information.