Email attachments have become very popular in the past years. They are a convenient way to send documents to your friends and family, but they also often carry viruses. You need to be very cautious when you are opening email attachments, even if they appear to be sent for a friend or family member.
Why are they dangerous?
Some of the characteristics that make email attachments convenient and popular also make them a common tool for attackers.
- Email is easily circulated. Forwarding your email is so simple these days. In just a click of a button you can forward an email to whoever, but this also means that viruses can quickly infect many computers at once. A good majority of viruses don’t even need to user to forward them to attack other people. They just scan someone’s computer for email addresses and send the infected message to all the addresses that they find. Attackers take advantage of the fact that most people will trust any email that comes from people they know.
- More freedom with viruses. Basically any kind of file can be attached to an email. This gives attackers just that much more freedom, because they can attach basically whatever kind of virus that they want to an email.
- Email programs offer many features. Be careful with the email program that you use. Some email programs have the option to automatically download email attachments, and while this might be convenient, it immediately exposes your computer to any viruses that are within the attachments.
How to better protect yourself
There are many things that you can do to better protect yourself against the viruses you can receive through email attachments.
- Be wary of unsolicited attachments, even from people you know. Just because an email looks like it has come from your mom, cousin, sister, or best friend doesn’t mean that it actually did. Many hackers can make it seem like the return address is of someone you may know. If it is at all possible, check with the person who sent the email to make sure it is legitimate before you open it.
- Keep your software up-to-date. Install software so that attackers can’t take advantage of known problems or vulnerabilities. Many operating systems offer automatic updates, which you can take advantage of.
- Trust your instincts. If an email seems suspicious or out of place, don’t open it. Even if you have anti-virus protection, don’t take the risk. If something about the email makes you uncomfortable, there may be a good reason for that. Don’t let your curiosity put your computer at risk.
- Turn off the option to automatically download attachments. Check your settings to see if your software offers the option to automatically download things. If it does, make sure to disable it.
- Apply additional security. Do your part when it comes to security on your computer. This may make you able to filter certain types of attachments through your email software.
All of these things can help protect you from having your email taken over by crooks. They could even attack your friends and family if you don’t have any security in place. Always be cautious and do your part to protect your computer.
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