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Risk of receiving & opening email attachments

Updated March 23, 2017

Computer security is at risk when you open a file that is attached to an e-mail from an unknown source. Before letting curiosity get to you, keep in mind the dangers associated with downloading an e-mail attachment. The only safe time to download an attachment is when you are expecting it and know who it is from.

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Phishing is one type of danger associated with e-mail attachments. This is when a person e-mails you with a link or attachment that, when opened, is set to get your account information. With that information, a person can hack into your bank accounts and steal your money and/or identity.


Trojans are a form of virus that your computer can get when opening an e-mail attachment. This type of virus adds malware to your system and causes pop ups to crash your Web browser or your system to malfunction.


Viruses are carried through attachments with any type of file extension. When these are opened, there is no way to stop the virus. However, you can protect your machine by using an antiviral software program.


Run antivirus software often, especially if you think your system is infected. Anti-virus software will not only remove any viruses from your computer, but it will leave you feeling secure that your system will not crash.


Never download an attachment that does not come from a friend, colleague or family member. Warn people if your e-mail account is hacked and e-mails are sent to people containing links or attachments. This will protect them from infection as well.

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About the Author

Sara Hickman owns a preschool science-based entertainment business in the Greater Cincinnati area. She has a bachelor's degree in communication and psychology from the University of Wisconsin, Stevens Point.

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