Tips to avoid getting caught in a scam
Experts say that over 196.3 billion emails are sent every day around the world. According to an Ipsos ( a leading market research firm) poll, 85% of all internet users use email, which makes it crucial to have the appropriate knowledge and skills around email to ensure security. Email is as you know, required for almost all of the websites we visit, from social media to banking. Email is unavoidable.
According to Cisco’s annual security report the largest driver of spam emails is not in attachments, but it is in the email message itself. Spammers are designing their campaigns to get users there in hopes that they can purchase products, or services. Once they get there they are collecting the user’s personal information without the user knowing, or they are compromising them in some other way.
Phishing is not the most prevalent form of email spam- Symantec reports that is accounting for between 3% and 8% of all spam emails, but because it typically looks much like a replica vendor emails, or websites it is very hard to spot. These emails often resemble trusted sources such as banks and hope to get you to click on a link which will then confirm your account details by asking you to login. If you do login you will be entering a fake website where spammers can then exploit fraudulently and possibly download malware onto your computer.
Malware is like a computer virus, however, it specifically looks for personal information, such as passwords and bank information to send back to spammers. They may then turn around and see that information for fraud.
Here's an example of a replica bank email being used for phishing:
There are plenty of highly rated free anti-virus programs out there. PC users can download free versions of AVG. Mac users can look at Sophos for an anti-virus solution. Both of these programs are free of cost and will keep themselves updated to help protect against the latest threats. Sometimes your internet provider will provide access to anti-virus programs by McAfee. These are often provided for a certain period of time and then you may need to pay.
The big name email providers like Google (gmail) or Yahoo automatically provide their own antivirus protection, however, please note that this is not a substitute for installing an antivirus program on your computer.
Yahoo automatically scans and cleans all your incoming and outgoing emails using Norton Anti-Virus. Google offers an anti-virus system which protects you against spreading viruses. Gmail will automatically scan all your incoming and outgoing emails including attachments, and they will notify you of any problems prior to you even opening them. Gmail uses anti-virus software from Sophos.
Filter Junk Email
The majority of email clients will have junk email filtering turned on by default. However, be aware that there are different settings, and levels of protection. Make sure that you are happy with the level of filtering and adjust as needed.
Turn Off Previewing
Some email clients will allow you to preview emails before you open them fully. This is generally a bad idea because it removes some of your control. Some spam messages contain tracking images, or “web beacons” which when displayed- even in preview only send a note to the sender that an email address is active- which then attracts more spam.
Don’t Take the ‘Sent From’ Address at Face Value
It is very easy for senders to put whatever they like in the “sent from” field when sending an email via a computer script. When trying to work out if an email is spam or legitimate don’t assume the sent from address is telling the truth.
The West Hartford Chamber of Commerce Technology Committee
Erin Tracey: ETracey@thinkadnet.com
Dave Calibey: Dave@bigthunk.com
Tony Leesha: email@example.com
Lynn A. Rappaport: firstname.lastname@example.org
Burton, Lindsey. How to Stay Safe online: Communication. May, 2015