PDFs Are Not as Safe As You Think

We are all used to having to be careful opening certain emails, zipped files,  WORD, EXCEL and other types of files in case they contain some kind of malware – virus, ransomware, Trojan etc.

But most people feel safe opening PDF documents.

However, scammers are using PDFs more and more as attachments in email or malicious downloads on websites.

PDFs can contain javascript programming which can have malicious intent and they can contain links which of course could go to any website.

Microsoft Malware Protection Center released a list of PDF filenames that are commonly used in malicious emails and websites. Scammers keep making new names of course.

  • pdf_new.pdf
  • auhtjseubpazbo5.pdf
  • avjudtcobzimxnj2.pdf
  • pricelist.pdf
  • couple_saying_lucky.pdf
  • 5661f.pdf 7927
  • 9fbe0.pdf 7065
  • pdf_old.pdf

Q. How can you protect yourself against malicious content?

Most of the PDF exploits use Javascript so if you disable that then a large part of the problem is blocked.

However, common sense goes a long way in protecting you.

  1. Do not open an email or download anything that is sent to you by someone you don’t know
  2. Make sure your email settings are on high protection and your anti-virus and anti-malware programmes are working
  3. If there’s a file on email you really want to open but aren’t sure then save it and then scan it (usually you right mouse click and select scan – depending on which anti-malware solutions you use)

Of course, you should run regular scans of your computer to ensure no malware has been installed.

How to Turn Off Javascript in PDFs

If you use a programme other than ADOBE for opening PDFs then you’ll need to check how to disable Javascript. If you use ADOBE then see below:-

  1. Start Acrobat or ADOBE
  2. Select EDIT then PREFERENCES
  3. Select the Javascript category
  4. Uncheck the Enable Acrobat Javascript option
  5. Save and exit

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