How To Know Which Email Attachments Are Safe to Open?

March 5, 2022
how to know which email attachments are safe to open?


Malicious attachments with emails cause an attack on a computer used by the operator. Attachments can be in any form Doc file, Excel sheet, PDF, etc. These files execute malware that is disguised in the files, which steals confidential data. Spam email attachments also spread malware through links attached to the emails. When clicked on the link, it takes the user to a phishing website that infects the user’s device. Malicious email attachments can attack the computer. The most dangerous files attached by hackers are executable files. Emails are a frequent way for malware to spread attacking personal computers, even more, when everyone is doing work from home in a pandemic situation.

Suspicious email attachments that users doubt should be avoided from opening. The user must be sure about its whereabouts and that is it from a trusted source and also the user knows the content it has in it. Emails can be scanned by preconfigured security software to detect possible malware. 

Email attachments that are safe to open are one having a safe file extension, a file extension is a three-letter word attached with a file name when we save a file. A few file extensions are safe ones by Microsoft such as DOC, XLS, TXT, JPG, GIF, MPEG, and WAV.

If any Email is received that is not having the safe file extension from the ones specified above, the attachments should not be opened if it has been doubted suspicious email. But if the user knows the sender who has sent the email and the email has been expected by the user, then such an email is safe to open. All the systems must be protected by a suitable Antivirus program for scanning the documents for possible malware.

Warning Signs for Possible Malware Attacks Through Emails

  • Trusted Source Emails Must Be Opened

To remain safe and protected from possible malware attacks, only emails from trusted sources that we know or are aware of should be opened. The email address of the sender should also be scrutinized before opening any attachment from an unknown sender. Hackers can create a fake email from a reputed company, so the user must check for the email address of the sender before clicking on any of the attachments from an unknown sender. Unsolicited email attachments or strange sender emails must be avoided.

  • Lengthy “Recipients” Field:

The strongest indication of a suspicious email is if there are more recipients than usual emails.

  • Unclear Subject:

If the Subject of the email is vague, not clear to the user, or the body text message is not clear, then the email is illegitimate.

  • Emails Marked as Spam Should Not be Opened

Most email attachments are being scanned for viruses. Most virus attacks on a personal computer need any attachment to be opened or some sort of action to be taken by the user.

  • Safe File Extensions Must Be Checked

The user must check for the file name and its three-letter word extension at the end of any attachment received. These files should not be having .exe extension as the file name. Exe file extensions are executable files that can run their program and are malicious that can create a virus to all personnel files on the PC.

If any such file is being received, it should be immediately deleted by the user as they can install suspicious files on your computer. In case you are using a Mac computer, a user must check for DMG files that can also cause a Malware attack on the PC. E.g. the file named as “file1.jpg.exe” are self-executable and are not safe to open.

  • Office Documents Contain Macros:

Microsoft Office can have “macro” in the files, which are not too easy to detect but are having file extensions as .DOCM, .XLSM, and PPTM as they are in the same language as the program like Word, PowerPoint, and Excel. However, Macros cannot be activated unless a user manually enables them by pressing the enable button at the top of the screen. The warning is also given by Microsoft for not doing so.

  • Compressed Files

Compressed files contain multiple files that are in zip format. Such files are smaller in their size and viruses cannot be detected until they are unzipped. If such compressed files after opening contain executable files, then the user must not open these files and immediately delete them.

  • The User Must Scan Any Email Attachment

For scanning email attachments, a particular file received can be downloaded but should not be opened. After downloading, the file must be scanned by a suitable antivirus. After completing the scan, the user can see the results at the top of the setting window.

  • Inappropriate Grammar

Legitimate emails have proper grammar and are being checked before sending, if an email has a lot of grammar mistakes, then such an email is an illegitimate one.

  • Seriousness to Pay Attention to Email:

Illegitimate email attachments show the urgency of action to be taken by the user or state for a limited period offer sounds phish, such emails should not be opened.


Concluding this article, it can be said that users must check for suspicious activity before, instead of regretting it afterward, which may lead to severe repercussions if not paid attention earlier to suspicious emails. Users should check out various dos and don’ts that need to be followed to avoid malware attacks. Users must understand the difference between safe email attachments and unsafe ones for their safety.