The Ontario Provincial Police is warning the public to be vigilant as part of Cyber Security Awareness Month.
Reading the contents of an e-mail should be safe if you have the latest security patches, but e-mail attachments can be harmful, police said.
Phishing scams can trick you into opening attachments or giving up personal information.
They appear to be e-mails from trusted people, organizations or companies, but they’re often the gateway to identity theft by automatically installing malware, viruses, worms and trojans.
“When it comes to e-mail attachments, you should exercise extreme caution and assume the worst,” said Supt. Paul Beesley, director of the OPP’s Behavioural, Forensic and Electronic Services, in a media release. “Don’t actually download or run an attachment unless you have a good reason to do so. If you’re not expecting an attachment, treat it with healthy suspicion.”
Sometimes attachments are disguised as letters of reference, resumes or information requests that can infiltrate and affect businesses.
Also known as “spearphishing campaigns,” corporations and governments have been targeted through e-mail attachments to take advantage of previously unknown security vulnerabilities.