Dangers of Blindly Clicking Email Links and Attachments

Posted on October 14, 2019

Cyber Security Awareness Month

In honor of October being Cybersecurity Month, we would like to take a moment to talk about what continues to be one of the biggest cyber threats facing us.

Lately, there has been an uptick in email phishing attempts across the country. We should all be very well aware of the dangers of clicking on links and opening attachments blindly. These are coming in more varied forms lately, including attachments that appear to be voice mail recordings when in reality they are html (web page) attachments created to launch a web page that will download malware on your PC. We have also seen attachments that appear to be PDFs that are actually web pages pointing to malicious domains.

Please be diligent in dealing with emails with links or attachments. If you do not know the sender or did not expect an attachment or email, treat it as suspicious by default. Take a moment to inspect the “From” field of the email. Many times this will have a display name you are familiar with, but the actual email address listed after the display name is an obvious scam address. Often this address will be from a foreign domain, such as .ru (Russia) or any number of others. You can also hover your mouse over a link to reveal the true web address it is pointing to, as the display of the link can be modified to make it appear innocent.

Finally, remember what is at stake. There are any number of possibilities that are going to occur when you click that link or open that attachment, and there will be no time to stop the disaster from ensuing. The malware may stop at your PC, but what information is on it? What data may be compromised? Not only could data be exfiltrated, such as your bank account username and password, but access to your account can be denied with ransomware. Imagine losing access to however many hundreds or thousands of family photographs or other critical files you may have saved on your PC. This type of attack has shut down businesses, governments, and even hospitals. Almost every incident was because someone clicked on a link or opened an attachment without vetting them.

Remember to stay diligent, and be on alert to this possibility. Bad actors are betting you won’t be, so always take a moment to prove them wrong. Never blindly click on links or open attachments. The risk is simply too great.

For more information on protecting yourself from fraud, visit our Information Security page. 

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