careful when reading email with attachments
all heard stories about people receiving an item in the mail that
in some way caused them harm. We’ve heard of letter bombs and exploding
packages, and in 2001, we learned about Anthrax-laden letters. Although
their frequency is low, they do make news.
These unsolicited items are sent to unsuspecting recipients. They
may contain a return address, a provocative envelope, or something
else that encourages its receiver to open it.
You probably receive lots of mail each day, much of it unsolicited
and containing unfamiliar but plausible return addresses. Some of
this mail tells you of a contest that you may have won or the details
of a product that you might like. The sender is trying to encourage
you to open the letter, read its contents, and interact with them
in some way that is financially beneficial – to them. Even today, many
of us open letters to learn what we’ve won or what fantastic deal awaits
us. Since there are few consequences, there’s no harm in opening them.
Email-borne viruses and worms operate much the same way, except there
are consequences, sometimes significant ones. Malicious email often
contains a return address of someone we know and often has a provocative
Email viruses and worms are fairly common. If you’ve not received one,
chances are you will. Here are steps you can use to help you decide
what to do with every email message with an attachment that you receive.
You should only read a message that passes all of these tests.
1.The Know test: Is the email from someone that you know?
2.The Received test: Have you received email from this sender before?
3.The Expect test: Were you expecting email with an attachment from
4.The Sense test: Does email from the sender with the contents as
described in the Subject line and the name of the attachment(s) make
sense? For example, would you expect the sender – let’s say your Mother
– to send you an email message with the Subject line “Here you have,
;o)” that contains a message with attachment – let’s say AnnaKournikova.jpg.vbs?
A message like that probably doesn’t make sense. In fact, it happens
to be an instance of the Anna Kournikova worm, and reading it can
damage your system.
5.The Virus test: Does this email contain a virus? To determine this,
you need to install and use an anti-virus program.
You should apply these five tests to every piece of email with an
attachment that you receive. If any test fails, toss that email. If
they all pass, then you still need to exercise care and watch for
unexpected results as you read it.
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