Did you know they were originally invented by a researcher who dreamed of receiving pictures of his grandchildren by email?
The extension he and his fellow researcher wrote back in 1992, called the Multipurpose Internet Mail Extension, is still in use today every time you attach a document to your email.
The ubiquity of email attachments, however, unfortunately makes it a popular target for scammers, spammers and outright bad actors. But if you know a few tips and can identify and mitigate the risks below, you will dramatically increase your online security — both in email and in other messaging systems you use in your job search.
“Some characteristics that make email attachments convenient and popular also make them a common tool for attackers,” says the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), listing the following reasons:
- Email is easily circulated — Forwarding email is so simple that viruses can quickly infect many machines. Most viruses do not even require users to forward the email — they scan a users’ mailbox for email addresses and automatically send the infected message to all of the addresses they find. Attackers take advantage of the reality that most users will automatically trust and open a message that comes from someone they know.
- Email programs try to address all users’ needs — Almost any type of file can be attached to an email message, so attackers have more freedom with the types of viruses they can send.
- Email programs offer many “user-friendly” features — Some email programs have the option to automatically download email attachments, which immediately exposes your computer to viruses within the attachments.
For these reasons, many organizations place advanced filters and restrictions on their email systems, which can cause delayed delivery or an outright block of your email with your important resume and other hiring docs attached.
One simple way to avoid such delays and blocks — and increase your online security while you’re at it — is to convert your would-be attachments to links and paste them into the body of your message rather than attaching them as you might normally do when sending documents or images to a trusted friend or colleague.
Not to mention how much easier it is to share your documents on the go from your mobile device.
This article shares some of the most popular free services for converting your resume and other hiring documents into links that can then be shared safely and securely virtually anywhere online.
Pro tip: Some of these services even allow you to track the number of clicks your links receive. You can use this tracking to know how many times your document was clicked or shared, and sometimes even when it was clicked and who clicked it. Alternatively, you can use a free link-shortening and tracking service like the popular Bitly to shorten and track your links. Simply create your document link using one of the below file-management services, then paste that link into Bitly’s free service to get a short, trackable link you can share virtually anywhere online.
Here are some of the popular options.
Specifically for Apple customers, iCloud is built natively into every iOS device. That means you can use the Files app on your Apple device to manage all of your stuff — photos, files, notes and more — and share them as links with other non-iCloud users. All iCloud accounts get 5 GB of free storage to start. Individual files sizes are bound only by your available storage.
For mobile access, use the Files app that comes on your device.
Box offers a free “Individual” account that gives you 10 GB of storage and supports individual file uploads up to 250 MB in size.
Box has a free mobile app for Android and iOS.
Not to be confused with Box, Dropbox offers a free “Basic” account that gives you 2 GB of storage. Though files uploaded to dropbox.com must be 50 GB or smaller, you can upload files of any size via the mobile apps, as long as they do not exceed your total storage limit.
Dropbox has a free mobile app for Android and iOS.
Google Drive offers a free “Personal” account that gives you 15 GB of storage. Most standard document file type uploads are limited to 50 MB, though other document file type uploads, such as presentation slides, are limited to 100 MB.
Google Drive has a free mobile app for Android and iOS.