Stop! We see you about to click the link in that email. Don’t do it until you read this.
We see this all the time, you get an email while at work from what you believe to be a trusted sender – UPS, FEDEX, Apple, etc. Perhaps you recently purchased a song from Apple or you have a package on the way. You open the email and innocently click on the link within the email. You have now infected your computer and possibly your company’s network.
Don’t be that person. There are many clues that can help you decipher if the email is valid or ready to unleash a malicious attack.
Here are some tips to help decipher good from bad:
1. Be skeptical: Look at each email – especially those you are even just a little unsure of – with a hyper-skeptical eye. Only click web links within emails you are absolutely sure are authentic.
2. Subject to attack: Take a good look at the subject line. Does it seem unusual or out of character when you consider the sender? Were you expecting this type of email from this particular sender? If no, it is best to err on the side of caution and leave it alone – or better yet, delete altogether.
3. New email, who dis?: Look at the “from” line of the email sender vs the domain of the link within the email. Do they match? No? This could be a potential malicious email.
4. Greetings Earthling: Many phishing emails will start with very generic greetings such as “Dear Customer” or “Dear Sir/Madam.” Don’t fall for it.
5. Chck 4 m istakes: Look for grammatical errors, misspellings and/or odd spacing. Most emails from reputable sources will not contain these types of errors.
6. You want me to go where?: Before clicking on that hyperlink in the email, hover over it to see the destination url. Does it match the rest of the email? Have you tested short URLs with a URL expander like checkshorturl.com to see where it is going? Does it look like a legitimate url? Are there random numbers or letters or a domain you have never heard of? Can’t safely decipher where that email is going no matter what you have tried? If so, delete … delete… delete.
7. Slow down: Take a minute, don’t rush to click that link no matter how urgent the email claims to be. Threats and urgent deadlines often are characteristics of phishing scams.