What should I do after opening an attachment in a scam email
April 24, 2024 1:58 PM   Subscribe

I opened an attachment in a scam email but only previewed it (I didn't download the file) and I didn't click any other links. Do I need to do anything like run a search for malware, etc.? I've heard that's only for if you download the file, give away information, or click a link. but wanted to make sure.
posted by ygmiaa to Computers & Internet (5 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
In the past I would have suggested installing malwarebytes and running it. But it is now so intrusive and scammy-feeling that I will not.
posted by Windopaene at 2:43 PM on April 24 [1 favorite]

I believe previews in Outlook strip out macros, ActiveX and other stuff. Otherwise the preview feature would be a major channel for malware infection. Assuming you have Windows Defender or another reputable malware solution in place, you should be fine.
posted by pipeski at 2:49 PM on April 24

I wouldn't stress. Assuming it's a PDF, it's been a while since there's been an exploit in those, and it's mostly like looking at a hostile web page: their primary attack vector is to trick you into doing something, like calling a phone number on a phony invoice or similar, and if you delete and move on you're fine.
posted by straw at 4:06 PM on April 24 [1 favorite]

I second straw. If you're on Windows, letting Defender take a full look at your system is about all you need to do.
posted by mhoye at 6:55 PM on April 24

> I opened an attachment in a scam email but only previewed it

What email program/provider do you use? If it's a web-based email (like Gmail through a browser), then I definitely wouldn't worry about it, since anything running in your browser is in an environment with extremely limited privileges, and the provider themselves may have their own layers of security in place on top of that.

If you're using a desktop email program with a previewer, it depends on the program, though most of the popular ones are fairly low risk as well, with attachment previews running in a similar low-privilege environment. That said, if you're not in the habit of keeping them up to date there can be more risk with those. A virus scan might be prudent for peace of mind if nothing else.
posted by Aleyn at 11:49 PM on April 24 [2 favorites]

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