Posted by Tehillah Mwakalombe on 1st Feb 2024

Do you ever receive files in your email inbox that you’re quite sure are legit, but you’re still a little worried about opening them?

Well, with all the hacking, spoofing, phishing and malware distribution going on these days, you actually should be.

What Is a Computer Virus?

We all receive several files and links via email every day and sometimes you may know who they are from, while other times you might not. Let’s go through some steps you can take if you’re trying to be conscious!

The first thing you must do is save the file to the Desktop and scan it with your PC’s installed antivirus app. That’s very easy to do. Here’s how:

1. Save the file to a blank area of the Desktop (but don’t open it).

2. Right-click on the file and click Scan with [name of antivirus app].

If the local scan comes up clean I then quickly follow that up with scans by dozens of other antivirus engines via VirusTotal by following these steps:

1. Click here to visit VirusTotal.com.

2. Click the Choose file button.

3. Navigate to the file you want to check for viruses and then follow the prompts as they appear.

That’s all there is to it. VirusTotal will scan the file using dozens of the best antivirus engines and tell you the result of each of those scans.

If all the scans report that no malware was found, that means its very likely that the file is clean and ready to use!

And that brings us to our next point…Unfortunately, some files types can’t be identified by their filename extensions, but that isn’t really a problem thanks to a great free online tool called CheckFileType. Here’s how to use it:

CheckFileType.com - Free Online File Type Checker

1. Visit this page on their website.

Note: Your web browser will likely mark this web page as insecure, but It has been used by many and works amazing. You can trust it.

2. Drag the file you want to check into the box.

3. Click Check File Type. After a quick analysis you’ll be given both the file’s “type” and its “extension”.

That’s all there is to finding out what type of file you’ve received. Now that you know the file type you’ll know (or you can Google) which application you’ll need to open it with.

In Conclusion, It’s always better to be safe than sorry when dealing with files received via email. Just because you know and trust the sender that doesn’t ensure that a file they send to you is safe. And of course it always helps to know what kind of file you’re dealing with as well.

Important: It’s wise to always be extremely careful with files that have a .exe extension.

The .exe extension indicates that the file is an executable file. Many virus-laden file end with that particular extension.

However, if you were expecting to receive an executable file (with the .exe extension) AND the file comes up clean from the scans then it’s a good bet that the file is safe for you to use.


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