At their heart, phishing emails are fraud and are directly aimed at manipulating their audience to turn over personal or business information as well as possibly infiltrate their business computer with malicious software. With phishing emails, knowledge of what to be aware of is half the solution.
Additionally, many business email programs, including Microsoft Office 365, offer simple ways to prevent and block junk mail by filtering out unwanted email sources in addition to validating “safe senders” as well as initiate “blocked senders” or sources of unwanted email. Even standard POP mail allows for free spam blocking programs to be enabled to keep out the tide of spam.
So, how do you recognize phishing email messages and what should you do if you identify one? First things first. If you suspect an incoming email is a “phishing” email, do not click on any link or attachment.
- Read it carefully. Phishing email tends to have bad grammar or misspelled words. If you notice this, it’s probably a scam.
- Phishing emails attempt to resemble real businesses, and try to “spoof” an email that appears like it’s official. For example, a Facebook, Bank or FedEx-looking email that has a slightly different logo or badly formatted text. Most professional companies polish the companies branding via email.
- Beware of links in these emails. Best way to check is simply roll your mouse over the link and see that the address matches the company web address, and not a spoofed web site. Cyber criminals like to purchase domains that are “close” to the real business address, but slightly off. This is one of the quickest ways to verify a phishing email.
- Many phishing emails have “urgent messages” or warnings from an email that require you to immediately click a link to avoid being blocked, or messaging that require you to quickly verify your account information or they will “close your account”. Don’t take the bait.
- Look for .exe file attachments in suspicious emails. Anyone sending you an .exe (executable file) email, do not download. Additionally, some phishing sites will show a valid link that might lead you to download an .exe file that can open up your local computer to a cyber threat.
While the items above help to identify phishing tactics, and can help protect your personal and business information, THUMBTECHS recommends having up-to-date antivirus detection software as well as monitored services that can really prevent malicious software from damaging your hardware or data. Remember, the holiday season is approaching and the phishing email attempts will be increasing all the more, so check your email carefully.