How to Protect Your Data from Email Malware

These days, it seems like there’s data theft around every corner, doesn’t it?

You hear so much about all of these big companies getting hit with data breaches and theft, it gets a little scary. If the big guys are getting hit, what can a little guy do?

It’s not as hard as you might think to protect yourself. While there are many places a breach can occur, email is often one that people don’t stop to think about.

Here’s how you can protect yourself and your data from email malware, and help prevent breaches in your system.

Make Protection A Priority With Email Malware

One of the best ways to stop malware in general, and email malware specifically, is by making sure that your security protection can handle the task.

You’ll want to start by ensuring that the protection you’re using is right for your needs. If you’re only using a couple of computers, then you may be best served by individual software covering each one.

Otherwise, you’ll want to look into security suites. Alternately, if you’re ready to outsource your IT, the security aspect will be handled for you.

It’s not enough to simply have the software installed, though. You have to make sure it stays updated, or it won’t work as efficiently. Criminals are developing new threats every day, you have to make sure you’re covered.

Use Email Settings Wisely

The next step you’ll want to take is making sure your email program is set up to help stop email malware from slipping through.

One way that malware loves to piggy-back into your email is through HTML. The ideal solution is to simply not allow HTML and pictures to show in your emails unless they’re from a trusted source.

While this won’t reduce your risk 100%, it will cut it down considerably. Most email providers already do this anyway, but you can still check your options and tweak them.

Another safety feature is not accepting certain types of files, such as anything executable. Malware absolutely loves to hide in these types of files, and a lot of email providers won’t allow them to be attached, for that reason.

If you must share these kinds of files with your employees or coworkers, consider using something other than email, such as Dropbox. If you must email them, rename the file to a .txt ending, and then let the recipient know to change it back on the other end.

Lastly, make sure your email program or provider scans all attachments before you download them. This has become a popular practice already, but it’s good to check and make sure.

The Best Email Malware Filter Is You

In the end, all this security doesn’t mean much if you repeatedly fall prey to bad emails. You have to educate yourself and be diligent about policing any suspicious emails in the fight against malware.

Learn How To Spot A Scam

Sometimes you get lucky, and the scam email is ridiculously easy to spot. The famous ‘Nigerian Prince’ scam is a great example of this.

Well, it is now, anyway. It wasn’t always, and several people got suckered into it. If you’ve never met someone in your life, why on earth would they want to send you money out of the blue?

Not all scams are as easy to spot. We’ve wised up to the inheritance scams, so criminals are finding other ways to snag our information.

Now they pretend to be our banks, our credit card companies, our service providers, and our favorite shopping sites, just to name a few ways they try to get us.

They word the emails to sound official or scary like ‘action required immediately’ or ‘your account will be deleted’, or pretend they’re in contact with authorities like the FBI. They’re trying to scramble your wits, send you into a panic, and make you act without thinking.

Most legitimate companies will never send you emails like this, nor will they usually ask for you to reply with your personal information. They also won’t ask you to confirm your identity by logging into a site with your information.

Learn how the major companies you use word their emails and requests. Enable 2-factor authentication for logging into any site that will let you. Carefully read any email that claims to be from one of these companies. If it seems fishy, delete it.

Don’t Forget The Spam

Most spam is obviously, well, spam. These ads can range from information about loans to winning gift cards, to adult themes. The ones that are male-targeted can be particularly amusing if you’re a female.

No matter how amusing they are, don’t open them, even for a laugh. Email malware loves to live in these kinds of emails. Send them directly to your spam folder, delete them, and move on.

When In Doubt, Don’t

If you have any doubts at all about the origin of an email, don’t interact with it. Don’t download any attachments, don’t enable pictures, and don’t click any links.

This can actually be a good policy to have overall, not just for fishy emails. You never know if one of your friends, coworkers, or other email contacts has been infected, so a little dose of caution can be wise.

If they’ve sent you a link to a site or video, you can look it up in a browser tab and bring it up that way, to be safe. Only accept and download files that you know exactly what they are and that they’re coming to you.

You can also double-check any link or email address by hovering over it and then looking at the address that pops up at the bottom of your window. If it isn’t what it’s supposed to be or what you expected, then leave it alone.

Never forget that criminals want any information they can get, and they’ll try any way they can to get it out of you or your computer.

Your Data Is Precious

It takes a group effort to help prevent email malware: your diligence, and an outstanding IT service’s support. If you’re worried about the security of your data, contact us today and we’ll help your business find the solutions it needs.