paperclip_yellow_backdrop1Aw look. It’s an email from mom.

Wait!!!

Ok. I know it looks like the attachment is from your mother. But, were you expecting an email with a document about dancing poodles?

No? Then don’t open it!

If you receive an attachment in an email that you weren’t expecting, it’s a good idea to check with the sender. Call mom and ask her if she sent you the file.

This might sound like paranoia, but just because an attachment looks like it is coming from your mom doesn’t mean that it is. Scam artists know we’ll be more likely to open an email attachment that looks like its coming from someone important. An email from your bank or the IT department sounds official, but anyone could say they’re from Bank of America or “your IT department.”

What can you do to protect yourself and your computer?

1. Look at the sender.

Don’t open an attachment, just because the subject line says “cute kitty overload.” Check to see who it is from first. If you don’t recognize the sender, delete the email without opening it.

2. If you do recognize the sender, take a look at the attachment.

Files are only supposed to have one extension, like: resume.doc

If you get a file that has two extensions, like resume.doc.exe, delete the file and contact the sender.

Why delete?

.exe stands for executable file. Once you run an executable file, you have given it permission to do anything it wants.

.com and .vbs could also signal an executable file.

3. Were you expecting the file?

You’ve checked that the email is from someone you know. You’ve checked and it doesn’t look like the file has a second file extension. It must be okay to open the email attachment, right?

Nope.

Some viruses are able to take over your address book and send emails that look like they are coming from someone you know. Maybe your friend Julie has the virus and doesn’t know it. Now you get an email attachment in an email that looks like it is from Julie. Open that attachment and you might be sorry.

The last question to ask yourself: “was I expecting this file?”

If it is a photo your brother said he’d email, you can feel better trusting it is safe. If you don’t have any idea what the attachment is and you weren’t expecting it, give the sender a call and ask them what they sent you. You might feel foolish, but you’d feel much more foolish opening a file that damages your computer!

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Too big to Email? Drop.io!

December 15, 2008

Attachments are a handy way to share files. One problem, our Email Inboxes are only so big. Sometimes you have a file that’s just too big to send. You need drop.io – a simple private way to share your computer files.

Instead of sending your file to your recipient(s), you upload your file to drop.io. Then, you use drop.io to notify everyone where to get the file. Then, they click on the short link you’ve set up, like http://drop.io/humungouspowerpoint, to access the file.

How?

  1. Go to drop.io
  2. Come up with a short name for your drop, or use the random suggested code. You’re link will be drop.io/yournamehere.
  3. Load the file, just like you would for an attachment.
  4. You can set the file to be removed after a few days or weeks. You can even password it for extra protection.
  5. Plug-in the Email addresses you want to send the file to.  You’re done.