How to identify dangerous email attachments
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E-mail allows for various abuses on the Internet – hacking, cybercrime, spam and much more. Therefore, it is important to be able to identify dangerous attachments in your email.
If you’re not sure where to start, make sure to use the information.
1. Dangerous File Extensions
Unfortunately, there are several file extensions that can potentially work with code on your computer and thus install malware. As you might guess, hackers cover them up and make them harder to spot.
Often, dangerous file extensions are hidden in ZIP files and RAR archives. If you see any of these extensions in addition to non-recognized contact, you should treat it with suspicion.
The most dangerous file extension is EXE. These are Windows executables that are particularly dangerous because of their ability to disable your antivirus application.
Other commonly used extensions to keep in mind are:
– FAR: They can exploit uncertainty while running Java.
– BAT: Contains a list of commands executed in MS-DOS.
– PSC1: PowerShell Command Script.
– VB and VBS: Embedded Visual Basic script.
– MSI: Another type of Windows installer.
– CMD: Similar to BAT files.
– REG: Windows registry files.
– WSF: Windows script file that provides mixed scripting languages.
You also need to keep an eye on Microsoft Office files with macros (such as DOCM, XLSM, and PPTM).
2. Encrypted archive files
As just mentioned, backup files (such as ZIP, RAR, and 7Z) can hide malware. Things get more serious with encrypted archives, ie those who need a password to retrieve their content. Because they are encrypted, the embedded antivirus scanner in your email cannot “see” what they contain and thus cannot label them as malware.
On the other hand, encrypted archive files are a great way to send sensitive data; they are widely used for this purpose. So you will have to make your own judgment and decide if the file is safe.
3. Who sent the email?
Of course, email from an insignificant address (like firstname.lastname@example.org) is almost certainly something you shouldn’t open. Instead, mark it as spam right away and remove it from your inbox.
This part is easy, but the situation can quickly get complicated. Cybercriminals are experts and know that e-mail addresses should look like an official source and thus practically make a fake attack.
For example, your bank email may be email@example.com; however, a hacker may send you an email from firstname.lastname@example.org. The difference is insignificant and can be easily overlooked.
Have you heard of fraud? The term fraud is used for someone who presents himself as someone else, usually trying to lie. In recent years, this scam has been common in emails.
Even if you see the real address and photo of the user in the sender’s field, do not rush to believe. If you do not expect an email from the sender and the attachment highlights some other fields we are discussing, it is probably malware.
Finally, remember that attachments can be dangerous, even if you know the sender and email are not forged. If the sender’s machine is infected, he can send an email to his contacts, even without a doubt.
4. Strange file names
The same way you treat arbitrary email addresses, with extreme mistrust, you have to be careful with file name extensions made up of arbitrary character strings. People do not save 20-character alphanumeric documents as their name, and your computer will never encourage you to do so.
Similarly, names like “freemoney” or “greatopportunity” from an unknown sender may contain malware and you should not open them.
5. Study the contents of the email
The text of the email may contain some clues as to whether it and therefore any attachment to it is secure. Bots write most of the mail, forged messages and phishing emails you receive. Thus, they often have spelling errors.
There are other ways to assume that something is wrong. For example, an email claiming to be your best friend will contact you with your full name. Or maybe it uses a language and syntax that you know the person concerned would never use.
You should also suspect an email asking you to download and launch the attachment. These emails often look like they come from companies like FedEx and DHL and claim that you can track your package. Don’t believe them.
6. Use your antivirus package
If you have an associated suspected email, be sure to run it through your antivirus application before running it on your machine. If your antivirus program marks the file as suspicious, stop. Delete the file from your computer and do not reload it.
How to identify dangerous email attachments