Growing up I used to watch Coyote and Roadrunner, and I always ended up irritated.
I used to wonder “Why doesn’t Coyote use his creativity and out-of-the-box ideas for something better than trying to trick Roadrunner? What a waste of talent!”
Did you ever watch these cartoons? Did you ever have this thought?
Cybermonsters act like Coyote every single day.
They will use elaborate email traps, including attachments and links with the intention to lure us.
They pretend to be legitimate financial institutes, government agencies, businesses, even our friends or relatives.
We become the “roadrunners” in the story, so we must always stay aware and mindful of our surroundings when it comes to our technology.
How do I know If An Attachment Is Safe?
What if you receive an attachment that really seems legit?
What if you are actually expecting an attachment?
How do you know if this time it IS real?
The Triple C Approach
I use what I call the Triple C approach to validate attachments: Call, Check, Confirm.
Let’s go through each step so that you can be safe when you’re opening email attachments:
Call. Call the sender and validate that they actually sent the particular attachment you are about to open.
Check. Look at the end of the attachment extension to verify what type of file it is (you can find it at the end of the file). The most obviously dangerous extension is EXE, as it stands for “execute” and will install a program on your computer once you download it.
Sometimes we underestimate common extensions because we are so used to them, like spreadsheets, presentations, letter documents, and images.
Any of these types of files may contain hidden malware, so be aware and become more familiar with extensions such as XLS, PPT, PDF, DOC, IMG, ZIP, among many others.
Confirm. Make sure the attachment is safe using your antivirus program or online scanners before opening your file.
You can save the file on your computer (without opening it!) and then scan it. You can also use online virus scanning services.
I have used firstname.lastname@example.org by forwarding the email with the word SCAN on the subject line. They will check out your file and send you the scan results.
Next time you receive an email with an attachment, take a moment to pause and reflect on the 3 C’s. Once you do this mindfully a few times, it’ll become a habit that can protect you from many online Coyotes!
How do you stay safe like the Roadrunner online? Share your strategies below!