How to deal with unwanted email attachments

We’ve all had them, emails with that little paper clip in the corner indicating there is an attachment.

These attachments come in many guises and some may even be embedded in the email itself as a picture etc. Which means opening such an email can leave you exposed to a potential virus or spyware.

So how can you tell the difference between a legitimate email attachment and a potentially hazardous one - the answer is you can’t.

However, there are several precautions you can take before opening one:

spam graphic1. Switching your email client into reading emails as text only instead of html will prevent embedded attachments from harming your computer. This option can usually be found in the preferences of your email client.

2. Make sure the option in your virus detection software is switched on to scan any incoming emails for viruses.

3. If you have hotmail, or some other webmail client, check the preferences for an anti-spam or anti-virus feature, and make sure it is switched on. Your resident anti-virus software may not be capable of scanning web-based mail for malware.

4. Be wary of any email attachments from unknown sources and don’t simply trust an attachment because it comes from a friend. They may not know their machine is infected. Always be on your guard.

5. Be aware of any emails using enticing language or any manipulative techniques, persuading you into opening an attachement. Often spammers can use sophisticaed techniques in order to provoke unsuspecting individuals into opening attachments, which can then unleash trojans or spyware on a victims computer.

6. Above all, do not reply to any spam mail, this simply lets spammers know that you have a live email address and will be identified as such for future emails. Your address can then be sold onto other spammers to add to their list. Often spam you receive has been sent by spam bots, therefore, in effect you are simply writing back to a sophisticated machine. If you receive any of these mails with attachments, whether embedded or not, simply deleted them.