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Danger in opening email automatically?

Posted on 2011-10-31
Medium Priority
Last Modified: 2012-05-12
I have endoctrinated my users with a healthy respect for what can arive via email unexpectedly, and they are generally careful about what they open.
I have been recommending that they not use the reading pane or autopreview with their inboxes, reasoning that each of these features essentially opens the email before the user has had a chance to decide about the message's safety.

The question: Do these features really expose our systems to malware, or do they merely open the (presumably harmless) text portion of an email's content?

Autopreview appears to just display text, and I'm hoping that maybe I can relax my recommendations for our users' convenience, if the text portion of email is entirely safe to open.
(Email here is pre-inspected by both Postini and Trend Micro)
Question by:james_bear
  • 2
LVL 26

Accepted Solution

Brian B earned 1000 total points
ID: 37058258
The reading pane treats the message the same as being opened. Preview will, as you said, only show the text portion of the message.

Having said that, most current email-borne viruses and other risks are spread either via an attachment that must be executed, or a link that must be clicked. So if you have a good AV in place (which you do), even the reading pane is pretty safe.

Author Closing Comment

ID: 37058583
The answer does not reference a source, so there's some trust involved, but the responder's "sage" status compensates well enough for my purpose.

Author Comment

ID: 37058795
Thank you! That is exactly the second opinion I needed. I'm glad to find out that the folks using our system here can add some convenience to their workflow.

 - James -

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