New research from endpoint security company, Avecto has found that 41% of people consider email attachments to be safe to open.

The research, which polled 330 end users found that pdf documents were the most trusted type of email attachment (35%) followed by Microsoft Word documents (21%). The research also suggests that 39% of people consider Microsoft Office attachments (.doc, .xls or .ppt) to be safe.

The survey findings come just weeks after the discovery of the Locky ransomware which is spread through Word documents attached to phishing emails. The statistics also support research from the Verizon 2015 Data Breach Investigations Report which found that 23% of recipients open phishing messages and 11% regularly click on attachments from unknown sources.

Mark Austin, Co-founder and Co-CEO of Avecto said:

“In 2015 there were 2.5 billion emails containing malware, a 50% increase on the previous year. Malware hidden in email attachments can still create lucrative gains for criminals and email scams continue to be an easy target for attackers. Typically once an email hits a user’s inbox it is treated as trusted, making it difficult for IT teams to police and regulate from that point onwards.”

In response to this growing threat, Avecto has launched Defendpoint 4.1, the first major update to its award winning security suite. The software will now include email attachment sandboxing for all Windows versions from XP through to Windows 10.

Austin continues:

“It’s all too apparent that end users continue to be a weak link in the security chain, and addressing this was an important consideration in Defendpoint 4.1. Automatically isolating email attachments and web sites in a sandbox to contain any potential threats, combined with privilege management and application control, gives organizations proactive layers of protection to deal with advanced threats.”

For more information on Defendpoint 4.1 please visit the Defendpoint page.