Sometimes, attaching a file with an e-mail message can’t be helped, especially if the file is too big or if it contains images and graphical representations that would be difficult to view with the standard e-mail. While there are some attachments that are usually harmless, there are also some that contain damaging computer viruses and malicious software. To make sure you don’t unwittingly become a victim of a virus attack or malware, you should screen all e-mail attachments you receive before downloading. Here’s how:
Use e-mail security software.
There are software that can be installed on your computer that are capable of screening any e-mail attachment you receive before downloading. Once it’s on board, you can open an e-mail message and use the program to check if the attachment is safe or not.
You have a choice whether you want to open an attachment or scan it first. Choose ‘scan’ and let your computer do the routine check up. If it gives you an all clear message indicating the file is safe from threats, you can begin downloading the file. Set the security settings to ‘high’ to maximize your protection.
In some browsers, such as the Internet Explorer, and e-mails such as Microsoft Outlook, security is included as part of their e-mail features. Simply click on the link and your e-mail attachment will be screened automatically.
When using e-mail security software, remember to turn on the auto-protect feature before opening any e-mail attachment. Or you can allow the program to automatically screen e-mail attachments before you download. That way, the program won’t forget to scan for any threats even if you do.
Using common sense to screen e-mail attachments
Other than e-mail security programs, the best way to screen e-mail attachments is to do it yourself. When checking your e-mail, determine which messages come with attachments. Even if the e-mail came from your friend or someone you know, always be cautious about attachments. The sender may not realize they are sending you an infected file.
Next, find out what the e-mail attachments are about, especially if they contain .exe files. If you are unsure of the content or have no way of knowing what it is exactly, delete the e-mail and its attachment. It may also be prudent to delete e-mails and their attachments coming from people you don’t know.
If you prefer, you can also preview an e-mail and its attachment and then decide whether or not you want to download it to your computer. It may seem like a lot of trouble to go through just to view e-mail attachments but this is a good way to protect your files, your computer and yourself.