Email Safety Guide: Protect Yourself Everywhere, Not Just in Toronto/GTA!
A lot of times, we get questions regarding the safety on email. This guide is applicable to people everywhere, not just to our clients in the Toronto/GTA area!
Easiest answer: if it is too good to be true or looks suspicious, don’t open it. No prince in Africa has left you a huge inheritance, nor did you win some mysterious Microsoft lottery!
More detailed answer of things to watch out for:
1. Email saftey, tip no. 1 – Look for misrepresented URLs/links
With your mouse, hover over (but not click) the link that says, for example www.itsupport.com, and see whether, when the mouse is held over it, it still shows ‘www.itsupport.com’, or now actually displays ‘www.ifooledyou.com’ or something. If these links are different, be suspicious.
2. Look for malicious attachments
Did you get an email from Canada post or UPS saying you missed a package? Those are most-likely spam/virus delivery system. Not all the time, though. To check, do the test describe in #1. These emails also often contain attachments. They may contain an attachment that is called something like Delivery.PDF.exe (or Delivery.PDF .exe). The .exe is the thing that makes this not a PDF (Adobe file), but a malicious executable program. Another way to recognize that it is not a real Adobe file is that even though you see the aforementioned Delivery.PDF, the icon in front of it does not look like a typical PDF icon, with the red and white picture.
3. The URL to click, or source of email is misleading
Beware of email security: Watch out for deceptive emails like those from PayPal services .com instead of paypal.com. Emails resembling @paypal.com may employ techniques outlined in #1 and #2, with prompts to click suspicious links. Check the URLs carefully to detect misleading addresses, such as PayPal services .com instead of paypal.com. Similar variations may impersonate Facebook support and other popular websites.
4. If the email asks for personal information, never reply to it
If your personal information is needed or needs to be updated, just go to the website directly and do so. Do not fall for the trick described in #3 as per above, for example, and be directed to PayPal services .com or Facebook mail .com to fill out those emails. If you think that the email is legitimate, simply open the browser yourself, type in the address of PayPal (as an example) yourself, and log in manually. See if anything needs action. If not, it means that the email was bogus.
5. If the email threatens to close your account…
have your taxes audited, or the police needing your information by email or some other such odd threat/request, if you don’t respond to the email with various information, this is the same as #4, use the same precautions, as this is most-likely bogus.
This a general guide that allows the basic user to decrease their chances of being harmed by malicious/phishing emails.
Email systems can be compromised, so even someone you know well may have their computer infected (often without their knowledge), and have their email automatically send you an email, which contains a virus (that will attempt to infect your system as well).
Someone who got hold of that person you know may also pretend as if he’s the sender, with the same story.
Nothing basically replaces good I.T. support for email safety, a proper antivirus (that also protects your emails), as well as several other solutions that your tech support person can provide, which would harden and drastically-reduce your chances of being infected and having your data compromised.