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Know These 5 Email Threats Before Opening your Next Message

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Deleting spam is easy. “New iPad $10,” deleted. “You are pre-approved for $5,000!” deleted. “Re: Singles Ready to Mingle” deleted. “This little blue pill…” deleted. The con here is so obvious it is almost silly. Sometimes dangerous spam messages are a little more subtle, we want to share with you ways to spot these threats and delete them for good.

Everybody hates spam, and thanks to better filters and crackdowns of spam companies like Grum Botnet, we are actually seeing less of it. In the span of a few years, the spam tracking group Kaspersky Lab has seen the amount of spam shrink from 85% of all emails sent to 65%. Unfortunately, a decrease in spam volume only means a rise in the threat level. The same group reports a 50% increase in spam that contains malicious files.

Spam is particularly sneaky, because even with the best antivirus software and the strongest firewall, it can still get through. The nature of spam is to fool you, not your computer. The way spam infects your system is by getting you to open and download it, usually by tricking you with a deceptive title. Your best defense is knowing what warning signs to look for, if you see any of these five threats in your inbox, delete and move on.

Unsolicited Emails from Unknown Senders

If the email is unsolicited, and the sender is unknown, then there is a fairly good chance a scam is in your future. Sometimes a new customer is trying to reach you, and you have to open it and investigate. If you open the message, proceed with caution. Do not download attachments or go to unknown links. The safest course of action is to contact the sender and double check if the message is real, if they did not include their contact info., then it is probably a scam. Also, be weary of the way a message is worded, both generic content and improper grammar are warning signs.

It LOOKS Like It is from a Contact, but Something Isn’t Right

Sometimes you might even recognize the sender, and everything looks legit, but this too can be a scam. This is called email spoofing and it requires you to double check your double check (double check squared). When an email is spoofed, the headers of a company you trust is stolen, modified, and sent to you with malicious intent. Pay close attention to the title, sometimes a spoofed message uses “To” and “From” with your own name and address, or even people in your contact list, trying to make you ask yourself “Did I send this? I should really check this out.” Worst case scenario, your own email account is spoofed and spammers solicit others in your name. If you notice any spoofing activity in your inbox, then give TMS a call at 1 (626) 737-2960 and we can track down the IP address and block it.

Blatant Spam from a Known Sender

Another threat is having your email compromised. This threat is like email spoofing’s less attractive stepsister, similar but worse. When an email account is compromised, it is basically hacked, overtaken, and spams are sent out through the compromised account. You may have seen this before if you have ever received an email from a friend that is totally uncharacteristic, usually trying to sell you something stupid. If you happen to notice that a friend’s email has been compromised, be a good friend and let them know so they can fix it asap.

Sender Requesting Sensitive Data

Phishing is a common ploy; this is when the spammer tries to trick you into handing over sensitive information. Phishing incorporates the spoofing tactic of stealing company’s logos and forms to deceive you. The email looks legit, it can have the appearance of your bank, credit card company, government office, etc., but the threat can be spotted when your sensitive information is asked for in the form they provide. As a rule, if a company you work with needs your information, they will never ask you for it via email. If you receive a phishing email, contact the real company about it and they will shoot you straight.

A Known Contact’s Desperate Cry for Help

What is the difference between a compassionate person and a sucker? Somebody who falls victim to 419 Advance Fee Frauds. These threats are less about compromising your computer, and more about taking advantage of your goodness. A 419 scam usually has a story from somebody in a foreign land, they may be trapped, or persecuted and need your financial aid to escape. A letter is included telling a sob story, and it has enough details to make you forget that it is totally generic. The 419 scam may seem obvious, but it is worth mentioning because people are conned by it everyday. This threat has expanded from email to social media, remember to be on the lookout for this wherever the internet takes you.

Cyber-protection is just one of the services we provide at TMS. If you have seen these threats in your inbox we can go over with you several security solutions, including a feature that will let you open shady emails offsite in a quarantined network. Call us at 1 (626) 737-2960 and let’s talk about how we can best protect you.