Email is ubiquitous. For a lot of us, it’s the first thing we look at when we wake up and the last thing we check before we go to bed. When something is this common and this important to business, it’s bound to be used for malicious purposes. There are, on average, 269 billion emails sent daily. This number alone is the reason why email is the preferred method for cybercriminals to spread ransomware and other pieces of malware. The odds of someone accidentally clicking a link or downloaded an infected attachment are high when you can send out hundreds or thousands at a time. With this being the case, how can you better educate yourself in identifying the legitimacy of the emails you receive every day?
Before we get into what to look for in suspicious emails specifically, we want to mention that you should always be aware of potential threats. Being vigilant is the first step in stopping malware attacks. It’s common sense, but you shouldn’t immediately start clicking links when you receive an email. So, what are some of the warning signs you should be on the lookout for?
Spelling and Grammar Errors
Everyone makes the occasional spelling error or grammatical mistake, and if you send it to the wrong person, they will let you know. So, it’s forgivable if there is a minor mistake here or there. Then there are the emails that are littered with mistakes. The kinds that make it extremely difficult to believe the authenticity of the email. Most malicious messages will contain a lot of nonsense that tries to convince you to click the link or download an attachment. This is not to say every suspicious email will be filled with bad grammar and horrible spelling that makes them stand out like a sore thumb. You might encounter a phishing email that is well written and very convincing, but these are an exception and not the norm.
Links Leading to Suspicious or Unfamiliar Targets
To lure an unsuspecting recipient to click on a link, the cybercriminal will disguise it within an image or give it a name that lends authenticity. As an example, let’s say you receive an email from your bank. There’s a link in the message asking for you to act on something that pertains to your account. When you hover over the link, the URL will show up at the bottom of your browser window or next to the cursor. This lets you know where you will be redirected, and, in the case of a phishing attack, it will direct you to a malicious site. Taking this extra step will help you spot a threat and mark the message as spam and alert your IT department about the threat.
Messages from Unknown Senders
To further create an authentic looking email, a hacker will try to spoof an email address of someone with authority in your company to fool lower-level staff. If someone in accounting received an email from the CEO, they would take that message very seriously and might put their guard down if told to download an attachment or give over information. It’s better to question every email you get than to fall into a trap. Training your staff to be vigilant and aware of the latest trends in email fraud is the first step in keeping your network and business secure.
Caution and common sense can help avoid most malicious emails and the threats behind them. In a perfect world, those emails wouldn’t make it to the inbox in the first place. With an enterprise-level spam filter, you can have better control to keep fraudulent messages at bay. Speak with an IT Support Guys specialist today about our variety of network security solutions today at 855-4IT-GUYS (855-448-4897).