Criminals hoping to target the unwary with scams, phishing and malicious software often will seek you out via emails. But with this in mind, do you know how to detect suspicious messages and what steps you can take to protect yourself?
How to protect yourself when using email
Malware, phishing and different types of scams utilise email for their success. These threats work as follows:
- You receive a message that contains an appeal or threat
- The message tries to convince you to do something
- You assess the characteristics of the message, decide that the appeal is legitimate and take the requested action
- The action might be clicking a malicious link, opening a malicious file or sending sensitive information like credit card details
- Results in a negative consequence for you as the receiver of the message and some kind of illegitimate gain for the sender of the message
Electronic junk mail is commonly known as spam. These are electronic messages you haven’t asked for that are sent to your email account, mobile phone number, or instant messaging account. Some messages promote legitimate products or services, while others will attempt to trick you into following a link to a scam website where you will be asked to enter your bank account or credit card details.
But what is the best way to protect yourself from malicious email? Stop it from reaching you!
- Don’t share your email address online unless you need to
- Consider setting up a separate email address just to use for online forms or shopping
- Have separate email accounts for personal and business use
- Use a spam filter to catch these messages before they get to your inbox
- Delete spam messages without opening them
- When you sign up for an online account or service be aware of default options to receive additional email about other products and services
- Be careful with email that does get through to your inbox
Some messages might still make it through to your inbox. To protect yourself from these malicious messages:
- Don’t open messages if you don’t know the sender
- Be suspicious of messages that aren’t addressed directly to you or don’t use your correct name
- Think carefully before clicking on any links or opening attachments
- Don’t reply to or forward chain letters
- If a message seems suspicious, contact the person or business directly to check if they sent the message
- Before you click a link hover over that link to see the actual web address it will take you to (usually shown at the bottom of the browser window)
- If you do not recognize or trust the address, search for relevant key terms in a browser
- Have up-to-date anti-virus software installed on any device used to access email
If you are still suspicious then do not hesitate to contact us regarding your email concerns.