Do not open attachments from people YOU KNOW

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Yes, you read that correctly.

Those of you who have followed this site and my show since its early days in the 90s know that I have always warned against opening attachments from people you know. Probably the most egregious security problem among emailers is the myth that opening email and attachments is safe as long it is from someone they know.

I hear this statement at least five times per week and dispel it every single time I hear it. Now, I need your help in spreading the word about this growing problem and misinformation.

Recently, there has been a wave of hackers sending email with your friends and family names listed as the sender. Despite not hearing from Aunt Martha in 5 years via email, despite the fact that your mother’s best friend has never sent you a party picture, and despite the cryptic and brief subject and body, folks continue to click on these emails and the links and attachments contained within them. And time and time again, they are greeted with porn, fake security software, spyware, and virii.

And to make things worse, hackers are getting so good at hiding their dangerous email parcels that no modern security software detects them…and worse yet, once opened, it takes very little for the user to inadvertently agree to the terms of the program thus thwarting security altogether.

How do you avoid this type of security mistake?

  1. Be aware that opening email from your friends and family is not safe…it can be too easily spoofed.
  2. When you do get an email from a friend or family member, especially with an attachment or web link, ask yourself if you were expecting an email of that type or does the email seem odd in any way.
  3. Scrutinize the email carefully to see if the email is written as your friend or family member would write it.

Don’t be afraid of email, but also don’t be careless with email…especially if it is from a friend or family member…allegedly.

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