Tech Talk 06.02.17 Blocking attachments

Matt Klein

Why some email attachments are getting blocked

Members of the Cornell community are encouraged to use university file-sharing services such as Cornell DropBox, Box, and OneDrive for Business. These ways of sharing files can save time, improve users’ file-sharing experience and protect against circulation of malicious files.

On May 15, 2017, the world was still assessing the damage from the WannaCry ransomware epidemic and trying to sort out what this latest escalation in electronic criminal activity means for the future.

Cornell senior leadership determined that in order to increase university email systems' resistance to similar attacks, it was vital to block attachments that could facilitate them.

The danger of letting through potentially harmful types of attachments has been known for some time. In order to try to support the Cornell community's established working habits as long as possible, the attachment types have been allowed until now. Unfortunately, the increasing sophistication and relentless pace of IT-related attacks mean that continuing to pass types that are known carriers for system-destroying files is too great a risk to the individuals who depend on university email, as well as those they correspond with. The university has decided to block attachments that can facilitate email system attacks.

While beginning new habits isn't ever easy, there are significant benefits to using other ways of sharing files, far beyond the basic need to protect against circulation of malicious files. The features and security gained from using university file-sharing services like Cornell DropBox, Box, and OneDrive for Business include reducing inbox congestion, ending the confusion that results from bouncing a file back and forth, and real-time coediting, among others.

Taking some time to explore the value of these services can result, over the long run, in saved time, and a better file-sharing experience. Since sharing information is such a big part of the job for most of the Cornell community, a small change in practices can translate into a big change for you, those you work with, and ultimately, how we work together.

For more information about blocked attachments and how to transfer them, see

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