5 Signs That The Mystery Email in Your Inbox is a Virus

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By William Peacock, Esq. on December 10, 2014 11:46 AM

Our network crashed on Monday. And the cause won't surprise anyone: somebody opened an email containing a virus.

It strains the mind to imagine how anyone could be that naive nowadays -- you're really going to believe an email from an unknown sender with an attachment containing "important documens" [sic]. And yet, someone did. And someone else did. And before we knew it, the entire network was down and an hour's worth of productivity was lost.

We're pretty sure we can pick out fake emails, but here are a few signs for those of you who are a little less experienced:

5. Misspelled subject

Our emails all came with the subject line: "Your documen". This should have been a warning sign.

4. Grammatically incorrect email body; 3. Email contains HTML code

Again, how is this not suspicious:

"Please look your attached document.
</html"

2. Unfamiliar Sender

Believe it or not, I don't typically get emails from strangers with attachments. You probably won't either. And if you do get an email with attachments from, say, someone identifying themselves as opposing counsel in a new matter, you might want to call them before opening those "documens."

Recent sophisticated attacks have posed as courts or clerks of courts -- not all spammy viruses are as obvious as today's example.

1. Attachment is a *.zip file

Maybe, just maybe, someone will send you a .doc or .docx (Word) file or a PDF. And maybe they'll send a few of them at a time. The only time I could see someone sending an entire .zip (compressed) file is if they were sending you an entire client file or other large batch of documents. In that case, they probably would warn you before the email.

When in Doubt, Pick up the Phone

I know: phones are weird. I hate using the phone. I use online pizza ordering to avoid the awkward five minute conversation with the delivery person. No, I'm not anti-social ... I'm anti-phone.

But if the email looks suspicious, and you're not sure if it is a virus, don't just open it -- pick up the phone, call the sender, and ask them if they sent it on purpose.

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