No matter how “bomb-proof” we make your network, you and your employees can still invite a hacker in if you click on a link or open an attachment in an email sent by a cyber-criminal. Some spam is obvious (can you say, “Viagra at a discount”?) but others are VERY cleverly designed to sneak past all the filters and trick the recipient into opening the door. Known as a “phishing” email, this still is the #1 way hackers get around firewalls, filters, and antivirus. It is critical that you and your employees know how to spot a threatening email. Here are four types of emails you should never open.
THE AUTHORITY EMAIL.
The most common phishing email is impersonating your bank, the IRS or some authority figure. The rule of thumb is this: ANY email that comes in where 1) you don’t PERSONALLY know the sender, including emails from the IRS, Microsoft, or your “bank,” and 2) asks you to “verify” your account should be deleted and never click on links or attachments! Remember, ANY important notification will be sent via old-fashioned snail mail. If it’s important, they can call you.
THE “ACCOUNT VERIFICATION” EMAIL.
Any email that asks you to verify your password, bank information, or login credentials, OR to update your account information, should be ignored and never click on links or attachments. No legitimate vendor sends emails asking for this; they will simply ask you upon logging in to update or verify your information if that’s necessary.
THE TYPO EMAIL.
Another big warning sign is typos. Emails coming from overseas (which is where most of these attacks come from) are written by people who do not speak or write English well. Therefore, if there are obvious typos or grammar mistakes, delete it and never click on links or attachments.
THE ZIP FILE, PDF OR INVOICE ATTACHMENT.
Unless you specifically KNOW the sender of an email, never, ever open an attachment. That includes PDFs, zip files, music, video files, and anything referencing an unpaid invoice or accounting file (many hackers use this to get people in accounting departments to open emails). Of course, ANY file can carry a virus, so better to delete it than be sorry.