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Attachment Dangers

Posted On 2010-06-12 by FortyPoundHead
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Some attachments contain Macros (simple programs that run within other programs, all the titles in Microsoft Office use macros). If you are not that familiar with spotting file extensions, do not worry, that is what I am here to talk about today. If you are a little hazy on the whole "file extension" thing then let's spend a few moments explaining it.

File extensions are what tell the program how to treat a particular piece of data. For example, most people are somewhat familiar with .doc or a .txt file extensions these are both text documents and when the user opens this file the Operating System looks at this extension and then knows how to open it.

Hackers try to use some sort of eye-grabbing ploy to get you to open their email and activate the virus, which is always an attachment. Most Anti-virus nowadays stops, or at least warns, you of these high risk attachments and even take measures to protect you. However, on the average 10-15 new viruses are created every day and I personally would not count on any program to 100% protect my pc. That is why I scrutinize any email, if I was not expecting an attachment, I will not open it until I had a chance to talk to the sender.

Some of the more common file types used to hide viruses include:

.scr - Windows Screen Saver - USE CAUTION if you receive a screen saver via email. They can contain worms or viruses
.pif - DO NOT OPEN! This is most likely a virus. Clicking it will run a program or code that can mess up your computer.
.exe - executable file - a program that contains a virus, Trojan horse, or worm
.pps - MS PowerPoint (can contain macro virus)
.zip - Zip (compressed) file
.vbs - Visual Basic script
.bat - Executable MS-DOS batch file
.com - DOS executable command
.asp - active server page - internet script
.doc - Word document (can contain macro virus)
.xls - Excel file (can contain macro virus)

This is in no way a complete list. Just because an attachment may have one of these extensions does not mean that it is a virus, but it should send up warning flags. Hackers use clever subject lines, and viruses can appear to come from a friend so keep on your toes and do not fall victim to their deceptive traps. Scan those attachments and verify with the sender before opening.


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