One of the most effective methods for cyber criminals to install malicious software on a computer or network is through email attachments. Word documents, Excel spreadsheets, and PDF files can all contain macros or scripts that run silently in the background once an individual opens the file. If that person is logged in through two-step verification and connected to the Harvard network, then the malicious program can take over files and functions on both the local computer and spread across our systems.
Like other organizations, Harvard has been the target of email phishing attacks containing ransomware, a type of malicious software – often delivered via email attachments - that locks access to a device and its data, and demands money to release it. Proofpoint Attachment Defense dramatically increases our ability to detect and shut down these attacks.