CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - It may seem like Microsoft computers and devices are more often the target of hackers than Apple products, because new alerts seem to be about Microsoft. Apple products can get viruses, but there's something about Microsoft that WBTV Cyber Expert Theresa Payton says is attractive to cyber criminals.
"In a new research report, a "White Hat", or good-guy researcher, took a look at the most popular Microsoft malware and viruses and noticed that many of them target Microsoft Office. The researcher believes that cyber criminals target Office because it seems to be the easiest way into a company and they are hoping for a big pay day sneaking into a company's files. They may find data to use for identity theft or to break into the company's bank accounts," Payton said.
She explains how they do it, and how you can protect yourself, below.
How do they do it?
Cybercriminals love to send phishing emails that will trick you into clicking on a Microsoft office document. They may disguise it as "company bonuses" or " invoice" or anything else that seems legitimate. Sometimes they send it to your personal account as a "delivery notice" or "your package has arrived".
So how can you guard against that?
1. Make sure you use the latest version of Microsoft Office & it's security patches.
2. If it's too expensive or cumbersome to upgrade, consider opening up the document using a cloud service such as Google docs
3. Trust but verify - call the person sending you the attachment to make sure it's really from them.
4. Although this isn't 100% foolproof, you can download the attachment and upload it to a free scanner call Virus Total
5. Consider using an antivirus / antimalware software product. A good free one is at Sophos.com
6. Consider using your email's "view" mode so you don't have to open the doc and can view it to read it
7. Consider macros a BIG NO-NO and only enable macros if you can validate the sender. Macros are a big favorite of cybercriminals because it allows them to launch programs without you noticing.
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