B2B Talk: Dangerous Email — Tips to Protect Your Business
When in Doubt, Throw it Out
Have you ever heard someone you know say something like ...
- I just received an email that says I inherited one million dollars from someone I don't even know.
- I can buy 100 acres of land in Idaho for $2,000."
- My bank just sent me an email stating they've had some sort of intrusion.
All of these statements are typically followed by ...
- They just need me to verify my account information.
Does this really still happen? The answer is yes.
In my previous blog post "B2B Talk: Protecting Yourself Online," I briefly touched on how important it is to NEVER open email attachments that you aren't expecting. This topic deserves further explanation.
According to Kaspersky Lab's recent article, spam accounted for 66% of all email traffic during the first quarter of 2014.
It is critical that we each protect our private information like it's the last thing we own. All too often, we mistakenly give our personal information away or click random links because we rationalize that someone must know me if they are emailing me. Spammers and hackers prey on this trust and will exploit it at every turn.
One form of spam is the kind you have knowingly initiated by signing up for a website service. These websites may continuously send you newsletters, special offers, or random info that at some point you determine you don't need. These types of emails will have a link to "unsubscribe," which is typically located at the bottom of the email.
Another form of spam is unsolicited email messages sent without your permission in bulk. Some common spam emails are "free dinner" offers, bank password requests, and solicitations for money claiming suspicious circumstances. Spammers are sending these messages to catch users off guard — therefore it's especially important to be extra careful when clicking links through emails. Spam has become very complex and some spammers are able to closely replicate your bank emails in an attempt to breach your privacy and obtain passwords or download malicious software onto your computer. Remember that legitimate companies will never ask you to provide your password or share account details over email.
Spam emails will typically contain one or both of the following:
Clicking on links in a spam email may send users to phishing websites that are hosting malware or sites that will release malicious software onto your computer (viruses) that can compromise personal data. With any link, you can view the URL before opening by hovering over the link and looking toward the bottom of your email client. Take the time to see whether the link is legit. The one in the following example is obviously not a SAFE link.
2) File Attachments
According to ZoneAlarm's article on email file attachments, close to 1 in 25 email attachments are actually malicious. Attackers attach files to emails in order to destroy data, steal information, instigate phishing scams, or to install scripts that are used to silently infiltrate your computer.
Check out TechGenie's post on how to deal with unknown email file attachments.
My rule is to NEVER click on links or open file attachments unless I'm 100% sure they are safe. I will take the time to ask the sender if they sent the email. This is an ongoing battle for IT and Communications experts that never stops, so be careful. Delete any email you feel is suspicious or you are unsure of.
When in doubt, throw it out !