Why can email attachments be dangerous?
Some of the characteristics that make email attachments convenient and popular are also the ones that make them a common tool for attackers:
- Email is easily circulated – Forwarding email is so simple that viruses can quickly infect many machines. Most viruses don’t even require users to forward the email—they scan a users’ computer for email addresses and automatically send the infected message to all of the addresses they find. Attackers take advantage of the reality that most users will automatically trust and open any message that comes from someone they know.
- Email programs try to address all users’ needs – Almost any type of file can be attached to an email message, so attackers have more freedom with the types of viruses they can send.
- Email programs offer many “user-friendly” features – Some email programs have the option to automatically download email attachments, which immediately exposes your computer to any viruses within the attachments.