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Scanning E-mail Attachments

Do you even think twice before you download a picture, music file or video clip that comes attached in an e-mail from a trusted family member or friend? I’m guessing you don’t, but I’m sure you’ll start after you hear what I have to say next. Brace yourself! Malicious software can easily hide itself in documents and media files and if you happen to open one of those on your computer, it could become infected as well. Yikes!

Because of that, it’s very important to scan the attachments before you open them. Now, most e-mail programs do a preliminary check, but as I’m sure you know, no system is fool proof. So, that’s why I’m bringing you a free service today called VirusTotal that allows you to scan your e-mails for complete safety!

The next time you get an e-mail containing a file that looks suspicious, here’s what you should do.

1. First, forward the e-mail to this address: scan@virustotal.com [1]


2. Now, clear out the body of the message and on the subject line, type in SCAN.

Send the e-mail, and within a short while you’ll receive a message that looks similar to this:

4. As you can see, the report lists several antivirus scanners and it shows whether or not the scanner detected any threats. In my sample file, nothing was found, so I knew it was safe to download it.

Note: VirusTotal is a very trustworthy and reliable service, but I don’t recommend using it for any documents you receive from a known contact that contain sensitive information. Instead, download the file and scan it using your regular antivirus software.

I hope you enjoy this invaluable tool!

~Neil Patel