Hackers send malicious email attachments to spread malware, steal your personal information, and spy on your device. Since cybercrime is on the rise, the number of phishing emails sent every day has increased exponentially in recent years. How can you know which email attachments are generally safe to open?
Criminals often impersonate reputable businesses, government agencies, and various services to trick people into opening a malicious attachment. Some of those emails may be crafted very professionally and it can be hard to notice any alarming signs.
However, when you click a fake attachment, a chain of unfortunate events unfolds:
A successful hacking attack can not only turn your device into a piece of garbage but also leave you penniless. Since data breaches happen every day, wrongdoers can compromise the account of someone you know and imitate that person. If you received an email from a family member or a friend, you probably won’t blink twice before opening it.
Avoid opening attachments containing extensions, such as .iso, .exe, .zip, .rar, and .dmg. A lot of malware is also delivered as Microsoft Office files. Since everyone recognizes extensions like .doc, .ppt, or .xls, people are more likely to click on them, so be careful.
Can txt files contain viruses? The plain text file format .txt is considered relatively safe. Even if this type of file contains malicious code, it can’t be executed. However, criminals can use a double extension to trick users into clicking on a file, such as “attachment.txt.exe.” In this particular example, the attachment is not a .txt file but .exe, which can be executed immediately and infect your system.
You are now probably wondering which email attachments are generally safe to open. Video, photo, and audio files are considered the least risky type of attachments. However, while .avi, .mp3, .jpg, and other similar audiovisual file formats will be less likely to get you in trouble, malicious code can still be embedded into them.
If you want to stay safe, never open email attachments unless you’re 100% sure they’re legitimate. Even if you have received an attachment from your co-worker or family member, don’t rush to open it. Inspect the email, and if you have doubts, contact the sender directly.
If you have downloaded an attachment from your email, scan the file for viruses to verify that it’s not malicious.
Is Google safe enough to protect your emails? Email providers have spam-catching filters, but they’re not entirely effective, and some unwanted emails can still end up in your inbox. If you’ve clicked on a malicious attachment, no email provider will be able to help you.
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NordVPN also has the Threat Protection feature, which scans all executable files (.exe, .dmg) you’re downloading with a size up to 20MB. If the app detects that the file is malicious, it deletes it before it can do any harm.
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