Know the Signs of a Malicious Email Attachment

One of the easiest ways for a malicious web user to infect your system with malware is by having you open up an attachment that contains a virus or a trojan. Sometimes the ploy will be obvious, in which case the email can be quickly removed to your trash folder. However, people can make mistakes, and scammers have been becoming more sophisticated in their methods.

To protect your network, make sure you know how to gauge whether an attachment might be dangerous.

Check the Extension Type

One of the easiest ways to establish whether an attachment is dangerous is by checking out what kind of file it is. As a general rule, you want to treat all .exe file extensions with suspicion. These are executable files that open Windows programs to make changes to your computer, and many email services actively block emails with such attachments. You should also avoid any Office document that ends with an ‘m’, such as .pptm or .docm; these might look harmless, but they can contain harmful macros.

Avoid Encrypted Files

Some dangerous file attachments will try to bypass the security efforts of your email filter by containing themselves within encrypted folders, which will usually be, .rar, or .7z file. These can be password protected, so email scanners and anti-virus programs will not be able to examine the contents. The email will often provide the password in the hope that you’ll open the folder and leave your system vulnerable to the malicious files hidden inside.

Don’t Ignore Your Anti-Virus

You pay a lot for anti-virus software, so make sure you use it. If you receive any warning that an attachment might not be trustworthy, you need to trust that warning. Remember, even close friends and colleagues will be able to send you malicious emails if their own accounts are hacked. The email will come from their account and look like it was sent by their own hand, but that isn’t necessarily a mark of safety. Get the right security in place to help protect your network.

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