How to Secure Email Attachments from Malware Risk

Email attachments are far from sinister. They are a part of the regular flow of everyday work and personal life. From business-related documents and invoices to family photos and videos, a wide range of email attachments regularly land in a standard inbox. However, email attachments are also a favorite vehicle of threat actors looking to inject malware into your system or network. This article explores why email attachments can be dangerous and how to secure your email attachments from malware risk.

Why are Email Attachments at Risk?

Simply put, they are easy targets. Since so many people open email attachments regularly, hackers have learned that attachments can be the easiest way to inject malware into a system or network. They simply embed their malicious code into a file that is commonly emailed and opened, such as Microsoft Word or Excel documents, ZIP files, .ICS files, Adobe PDF documents, or even image and video files. When the file is opened, the malicious code is triggered, resulting in whatever damage the hackers hoped to achieve: encrypted files, stolen data, or a complete system shutdown.

In the past, most software enabled macros by default, allowing the malware to deploy as soon as the file was opened. Today, most software vendors have disabled macros by default. This means that hackers not only have to trick users into opening email attachments but also to enable the macros that will trigger the malware. The most common method used by cyber attackers to achieve their goals is social engineering via a phishing scheme. Phishing schemes are underhanded attempts to fool employees and individuals into opening and clicking on malicious links or attachments in emails, resulting in malware deployment.

Five Steps to Secure Email Attachments from Malware Risk

There are several important steps that individuals and organizations can take to safeguard their systems and networks against the threat of file-borne malware found in email attachments.

Step 1: Raise Awareness About Malware and Other Data Security Threats

An organization must educate its employees about the dangers of email attachments and phishing schemes. Awareness programs and staff training can focus on helping…