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My email virus software quarantined several virus files. Is it safe to view them with 'cat' or other similar commands? Also can I safely open them with editors like nano?


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Don't use cat, use strings, xxd, hexdump etc. If you really want to know what is going on use a disassembler. – Thor Sep 16 '12 at 20:16
I haven't thought about this, but thanks for the suggestion – tonytz Sep 19 '12 at 19:15
up vote 4 down vote accepted

cating any binary files can screw up your terminal, but you can still return it back to normal by running reset command (or just closing it and starting new one)

Otherwise it should be safe.

Probably, there is a way to create some virus that targets vulnerability in e.g. nano's syntax highlighting module, but I haven't heard of such things.

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Yes, you can safely view the virus with those tools, though I'm not sure why you would want to do it. There may be a virus to specifically target a leak in nano or cat or vim or whichever, but the odds of that are so small I'd almost not mention it.

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