Oh no…maybe I shouldn’t have clicked that link! Or downloaded that file. Or opened that email!?

We’ve all been there. Yes, even us technicians. Sometimes it’s hard to tell just what’s real and what’s fake.

But fear not!

We’ve got what you need to learn the risks and dangers of that document you accidentally opened on your work computer.

Read on and find out what exactly you SHOULD be worried about!

Opening a fake e-mail

Let’s start with the most common concerns we see with our clients. I’m sure you’ve seen it before: an email from your boss, or your co-worker, or some mysterious emailer. You click it, read the strange request, and soon find out this isn’t Tom from Accounting! It’s a hacker trying to steal your bank information or get you to install a virus!

Don’t worry! These are common (and tricky.) Breathe, we have good news on this one.

If all you’ve done is open the strange email, then you have nothing to worry about. It’s almost unheard of to be infected by just opening an e-mail. Just make sure you don’t open any attachments or click on any links.

Opening an attachment, a .DOC, .PDF, XLS, etc.

Here’s where we run into a risk. Receiving a strange email is one thing, actually opening a file is another. Emails or files can contain enclosed in .ZIP, .RAR, etc. files that can posses a risk to your system. Here is where you would want to run your Anti-Virus software or contact a technician to assist.

That said, these risks are fairly minor. It’s when you’ve opened a .DOC or other file and enable it access to your system when things get scary!

Running Objects, Enabling Macros, Allowing Changes

Do you know that yellow bar at the top of a Word document that you’ve downloaded? The one that says “enable?” When you’ve downloaded a .DOC or a .PDF or any other similar file that you may not recognize, the second you click “enable” the file you open your system up to infection.

This is a serious threat that if not checked can be devastating for a system.

It is important only to enable or run files that you trust and recognize!

Running .EXE, .SCR, .JS, etc

Again, running executable files and other similar software proves a high risk to your system! These directly install onto your system. Allowing one to go through means allowing whatever software that’s inside to change your system!

It is important to only run the files you trust!

Entering Information in Fake Log-in Pages

This one is a bit different from the previous points but no less important! Let’s say that you were just emailed about an incoming package by UPS. You click the link provided by UPS and enter your login information to check in on the tracking information, but UH OH! The email wasn’t sent from UPS, but some malicious party that now has your login information!

This type of threat is called phishing and is very common. Unfortunately, browsers and antivirus can only do so much to prevent this type of threat. It’s up to the user to be vigilant when entering information on the internet!

Entering information into fake pages does not “infect” your system, however it does compromise all the information you had entered.

Be aware and watch where you put your information!

Downloading and opening something off a web page

This is another common issue. I’m sure many have seen this before. You get on a website and then “WARNING YOUR SYSTEM IS NOW INFECTED.” Right below the big warning is an inviting “Cure” or answer to clean your system. Of course, your system is not actually infected. It is only once you click the “Cure” do you get the infection.

Luckily, it’s easy to avoid these infections. Simply close the browser and move on with your day!

With all this, you now have a solid understanding of several internet threats and what to avoid out there! Of course, if you have any questions, that’s what we are here for!