Last night on Stopping Scotland’s Scammers there was a demonstration of what can happen if your computer gets infected with malicious software.

If you haven’t seen the programme the presenter’s computer was infected with some malware that allowed a hacker to do various different things. This ranged from viewing the files on the computer to turning on the web camera to take still photographs and run a live stream of what was happening.

Malware is a major problem for computer users and people can be infected in various different ways. The most common way is for the attacker to send a phishing email to the victim to get them to download a file. Contained in the file would be the malicious piece of software.

Typically these attachments are contained in .zip files which are normally to be used to reduce the size of a file, making it easier to send and transfer. Think about when you try to send some photos to someone on email. The file size may be too big for the server to handle so they need to be made smaller. With a .zip file, it can be hard to see what the file actually is and this is what the attackers are hoping for.

Unless you know what the file is and trust the sender it is always best to delete these types of files without opening them. How big is that invoice if it needs to be compressed in to a .zip file?

For more advice on cyber security, contact [email protected]

Gerry Grant, Chief Ethical Hacker

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