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Everything You Need to Know to Keep Suspicious Junk Email Where It Belongs

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Everything You Need to Know to Keep Suspicious Junk Email Where It Belongs

As COVID-19 continues to spread, another type of threat is going viral:  cyberattacks.  Unfortunately, hackers are using the fear and chaos surrounding the pandemic to target remote workers.  One of their primary tactics involves phishing scams.  Unsuspecting users who click links or documents in phishing emails unwittingly open a Pandora’s box of malware and other threats that can quickly overtake a mobile device or even an entire company network.  Here are some tips for recognizing suspicious emails and how you can protect your system.

Recognizing Suspicious Emails

Malware-ridden emails may take a few different forms.

Messages on Company Policy

Phishers like to hack company email accounts in an attempt to access sensitive data stored in the network.  They compose emails (frequently generically addressed to “all”), informing employees of new company policies associated with the pandemic.  Usually, they’ll ask you to download information.  Fake policy emails may be signed generically as  “Human Resources”  but can’t be attributed to an individual.

Health Advice or Ads

Bad actors have taken to sending emails containing medical advice or related ads.  In many cases, the authors claim that these messages come from Wuhan, China, where the outbreak originated.  Readers are asked to click a link or open a document to learn more.  Following those instructions will actually direct you to download malware to your device.

Centers for Disease Control Alerts

Cybercriminals put together emails that seem to come from the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC).  The messages appear to contain information about cases in your locale.  You may be asked to click a link to see the list.

How to Stop Cyber Threats That Come Through Your Inbox

Fortunately, you can take steps to ensure that you and your team don’t fall prey to phishing scams.  Taking a proactive stance will help you intercept suspicious emails before they overrun your system with malware.

Think Before You Click

When you receive an email you’re not expecting that contains links, hover over them with your mouse to see where they come from.  Sometimes you can recognize right away when a link isn’t legitimate.  Be aware, though, that phishers are becoming increasingly adept at creating links that look authentic.  You can also check the sender’s email address to see if it looks questionable.  When in doubt, delete the message without clicking links or opening attachments.

Look for Red Flags

Phishing emails often lack credibility.  They’re usually addressed impersonally (as in, “Dear Sir or Madam”).  These messages are frequently laced with spelling and grammatical errors, too.  Scammers are also notorious for sending emails that demand an immediate response.  This is just a ploy to get your personal information.  On that note, always delete messages that ask for personal data, such as login information or your social security number.  Government agencies never ask for these details via email.

Block Suspicious Senders

In Outlook, you can block domains that are questionable or that you don’t recognize.  You can also mark spam as junk mail so that it’s sent to a separate folder and not your inbox.  You can report malicious messages to Outlook admins if needed.

Train Your Employees

Train your team to recognize suspicious emails.  Establish safety protocols and reporting procedures so employees know how to alert you to any activity that could compromise the company network.

Enlisting the services of a knowledgeable IT company can go a long way toward securing your network.  Tech support professionals provide round-the-clock monitoring of your system and ensure that it’s equipped with the latest anti-virus software and firewalls.  Safeguarding your network allows you to concentrate on core tasks and optimize operations overall.