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I understand about "safe practices" when opening email attachments, but I was just wondering how MB works if you do open an infected attachment. I have friends and other family members who might not be so cautious in how they handle those attachments. Is saving the attachment and scanning it with MB the best way to go about it or will MB detect a problem when opening the attachment or does it wait until something in the attachment executes? Again, just curious about how MB handles this.

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The best option is Verify and Corroborate and not save and scan.  Best Practices dictate to only open attachments if you are expecting email with an attachment from a known sender.

If you were not expecting email with an attachment one should ask themselves... Who sent the email with the attachment ?

Is it someone you know ?

  • If yes, contact them and ask them did they send email with an attachment, what it is and what it is for.  Verify with the sender about the email and corroborate that they intended to send you email with an attachment.
  • If No, delete the email.

MBAM only targets PE files and most email servers block them as email attachments.  Malicious actors may use techniques to obfuscate the attachment such as placing the executable file in an ISO or other non-standard archive file format.  Malwarebytes can't scan inside  non-standard archive file formats.  The file may come in a standard archive file format but may be password protected.  Anti Malware software can't scan files stored in a password protected archive file. 

Malicious actors may use scripted formats or document files as email attachments which Malwarebytes does not target via signatures.

That brings us back to Verify and Corroborate as the safest way to handle email with attachments.


Edited by David H. Lipman
Edited for content, clarity, spelling and grammar
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24 minutes ago, Phxflyer said:

Is saving the attachment and scanning it with MB the best way to go about it or will MB detect a problem when opening the attachment or does it wait until something in the attachment executes? Again, just curious about how MB handles this.

It depends on the attachment.

Malwarebytes does not target script files during a scan.. That means MB will not target; JS, HTML, VBS, .CLASS, SWF, BAT, CMD, PDF, PHP, etc.

It also does not target documents such as; PDF, DOC, DOCx, XLS, XLSx, PPT, PPS, ODF, etc.

It also does not target media files;  MP3, WMV, JPG, GIF, etc.

Malwarebytes will detect files like these on execution only.


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Very good tips.  If I may just add.....advise all to not be hasty to "click" stuff.  Hold off on clicking without some very careful checking, like David suggested.

The bad guys use attachments in email as "a" way to move ransomware & spear phishing & other evil.  Don't ever be 'automatically' clicking.

Also watch out for cleverly worded lures in Email subject lines & body.

Never click links without first hovering your mouse over the link and seeing if it is going to an odd address ( one that does not fit or is odd looking or has typos).

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Thanks for all the information. Although my wife and I are both aware of the "safe" practices, it never hurts to go over them. Again, the main reason I was asking is I have Norton Security now but plan on dumping it when my subscription expires and just using MB and Windows Defender so I just wanted to know in the event of a mistake and a "bad" attachment was opened how it would be handled. I posted a while back about "browser hijacking", "misdirecting"... whatever you want to call it... and that was cleared up so I was just trying to check on other routes "bad stuff" could get into your PC and what MB would do for protection.  I'm good with the above answers so unless you have something important to add, I think this has been cleared up. Thank you all for your input.

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