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Protection from Email Viruses Starts with You

by Stefani Laszko

Your email inbox is under attack and it is up to you to keep it safe. Downloading malicious email attachments has become the leading way to infect your computer and network with the worst forms of malware out on the Internet. Malware is constantly being sent out via legitimate looking emails, often from people or companies you know. As a best practice you should always be running a good quality anti-virus program and stay current on updates, but with malware distributed through email, the anti-virus software often will not see the infection until it is too late or sometimes the malware is distributed before the anti-virus company even knows about it.

We are all guilty of getting into the “zone” while going through our inboxes and today’s hackers capitalize on this. They have advanced software used to hack into email accounts and then they use the information to send you a malicious email directly from a friend or family member or they may send you an email from what looks like a reputable company. Common company styled emails are from package delivery companies with fake tracking information links and banks that we all deal with on a daily basis. These emails look just like the legitimate one you’ve recently received so you must stay vigilant.

The easiest way to distinguish if an attachment is safe or malicious is to look at the file extension – the three letters that follow the period at the end of the file name. According to Microsoft, .exe, .com, .pif, .bat and .scr are the most common file name extensions that may contain a dangerous file. Sometimes the extensions are not viewable by default. If that is the case on your computer, you can enable them by going to Control Panel > File and Folder Options > Hide Extensions for Known File Types (uncheck this item.) Also, be very wary of attachments with two extensions, such as pdf.exe. The only file extension that matters is the last one and it is extremely rare to have two file names, it is probably someone trying to trick you into thinking a file is safe.

If you receive an email with an attachment from someone you know or a company you do business with and you weren’t expecting it, take a moment to follow up with them before you open it. By being cautious, you may be saving yourself a significant amount of time and money wasted on virus clean up.

Mythos Technology is an IT consulting and management firm. For more information, please visit  or call (951) 813-2672.

Written by Stefani Laszko

Mythos Technology is an IT consulting and management firm. For more information, please visit or call (951) 813-2672.

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