Blog / OH NO! NOT YOU AGAIN! – Older File Types are Blocked as Being Potential Virus Carriers.
We’re renovating the TRINUS offices in Stony Plain this summer. In addition to a new look, we are consolidating two older and separate bays into a single expanded facility. Apart from our Computer Centre – that will remain in it’s own separate building – all TRINUS staff and operations will be under one roof with a lot more breathing room. The renovations have forced me to work from home since June, and while that can be an advantage, it means we’ve been having all sorts of staff meetings around my dining room table. My wife has been very patient, but the routine is starting to grow old. We should be in our new offices by early September.
A good friend of ours recently gave me a small plaque intended for my new office. Made from heavy black cast iron, it displays Oh No, Not You Again. I’m not sure this is appropriate for someone who spends most of their day meeting and communicating with Clients. Most likely, I’ll mount it on a desk-stand and bring it out on special occasions.
An IT Associate from one of our Clients recently sent me an Email thread he was involved in with one of Canada’s BIG BANKS. During a corporate exchange, the bank sent one of the Client’s staff members an attachment, which was a request-for-authorization form. The attachment was in a .doc file format. .Doc files are an old standard of Microsoft Word, and they are notoriously easy to infect with viruses; usually in the form of harmful macros that activate when you open the file. The Client subscribes to the TRINUS Email SPAM and Virus Filter – it seems we trapped the attachment, then deleted it, and the message that sent it. We don’t know if it had a virus; we just deleted it, based on the file type. For the record, our filters discard about 200,000 Email messages for one reason or another, every quarter.
So where is this shaggy-dog story going? Well, it seems our IT Associate-friend could have used my Oh No, Not You Again sign when he came across this old file format. For the most part, the IT industry moved on long ago from old Microsoft file types, preferring to trust formats generated from new versions of Office: docx, xlsx, pptx, and so on. These new formats – while not totally safe, are a lot easier to scan for harmful viruses – and Microsoft continually updates the formats and Office Suite to mitigate the risks from emerging threats. .Doc and their like haven’t been actively supported for close to 15 years.
The IT Associate sent a polite but firm Email reply to the bank on behalf of the intended Recipient, requesting a more modern .docx formatted document. Judging by the thread, he lost the argument and we were asked to try and recover the file. Expedient – yes. Good IT practice – NO. One wonders at the bank’s operations; if they’re charged with keeping our money and financial transactions safe, why are they using antiquated and virus-prone file formats?
We regularly block several file formats from reaching our Clients through Email; most of them are older, unsupported formats, but some are still in regular use today. .exe, .cmd, .bat, .zip, .scr and .rar are some of the common file types we block. Our filter removes both the attachment AND the sending message, so it never reaches the Client’s Inbox.
However, that’s not the end of the story. Some suspect messages and attachments do pass through the filter, but there are at least two more steps before it reaches your Inbox; most Clients’ firewalls have sophisticated filters that look at ALL Internet traffic, including incoming Emails – and the local Anti-Virus program also scans Email. That’s three layers of Security designed to protect the User, by scanning and removing possible virus-infected files.
Which brings me to my final point: Checking Email accounts that are not part of the corporate network using your work computer, can be dangerous. Google, Bing, Yahoo – and a host of other Email systems – may not have the protection and filters that your corporate network has, which could lead to a visit from your own IT Associate – and his expression is going to say: Oh No, Not You Again.
If you would like more information about blocked file types and how to have stress-free corporate Email, please contact me or your Account Manager at TRINUS.