In a world full of scammers and hackers, checking your email has become more tedious than ever.  With phishing attempts on the rise, it’s important for businesses to train employees on email security.  Here’s how to avoid clicking on dangerous emails.

You’re at your desk going through emails when you come across something odd.  It’s an email from your IT department explaining that due to new software, everyone needs to reset their password through the attached link.  You recognize the red flag and call your IT department.  As it turns out, you were correct: the email was a phishing attempt.

Sometimes it is difficult to distinguish a fake email from a real one.  Hackers operating phishing scams try to gain your trust by making you believe the email is genuine and safe.  From personifying Microsoft to Docusign to banks and more, a hacker’s goal is to make you click.  Luckily, due to security advancements, you should be able to at least open an email without risk so you can view the contents and determine if it’s legitimate.

Have a look at the following seven measures you can take to avoid clicking on dangerous emails.

Seek Out the Sender

Always check to see who the email is from.  If it is not from a familiar name, is not related to your job responsibility, or has a suspicious domain name, that’s a red flag.  Remember, don’t hesitate to seek out a second opinion if a sender seems questionable.

Recognize the Recipients

Make sure to glimpse at the recipients of the email.  If you were copied in a large group email where you don’t recognize anyone, or if the group is random but shares a common attribute such as the same last initial, you may be dealing with a hacker.  Online criminals often target large groups that have little or no correlation.  In fact, they copy heaps of email addresses into one email to maximize their chance of obtaining someone’s information.  So, if you recognize an unusual recipient’s list in an email you receive, delete the email and you’ll be rid of the risk.

Scan the Subject

Wild subject lines can be a great way to verify a fake email.  The subject of an email should be a general overview of the content.  Therefore, if the subject is irrelevant, doesn’t match the content, or is a reply to something you never sent, then you may be the target of a scam.  If the subject line can’t confirm the email to be reliable (or a sham), that’s okay.  There are plenty of other ways to avoid clicking on dangerous emails.

Determine the Date

It’s easy to ignore the date and time of an email.  When you’re focused on content, a dangerous email can seem completely trustworthy until you look at the time it was sent.  Emails received in the middle of the night should generate some suspicion: unless that’s typical in your business. So, the next time you open an email, glance at the time stamp; it will only take a second.

Comb Over the Content

The content section of an email is where a hacker attempts to gain your trust.  There may even be pictures or logos to make the overall appearance seem genuine.  Fortunately, few fake emails are perfect.  They often include random or illogical content, poor grammar, and spelling errors.  They may also ask you to click on a link or open an attachment to avoid a negative consequence or to gain something of value.  These are all red flags.  A real email will be written professionally and will have relevant content that directly applies to you.  Anything out of the ordinary should always be questioned.

Hold-Off the Hyperlinks

Hyperlinks are helpful tools.  They are little shortcuts that help avoid messy databases and frustrating search engines.

So, how can you tell if a link is misleading?  The first thing you should do is hover over it (but don’t click!).  If the hyperlink goes to an unknown site, or one different from what was mentioned in the email’s content, don’t click on it.

Hackers often include hyperlinks that lead to an unprotected page.  These pages may ask you for personal information or may contain malware that will put you at risk.  Dangerous hyperlinks may also have spelling errors or be the only form of content in an email.  If you recognize any of these features, delete the email and you will avoid potentially harmful consequences.

Avoid Attachments

Like hyperlinks, attachments are everywhere.  Businesses frequently use attachments to share plans, documents, and anything in-between. However, you may occasionally receive an email from an unknown sender that has an attachment.

Unlike hyperlinks, you can’t hover over an attachment; but you can gather contextual information about it.  For example, if you were not expecting an attachment, or if the attachment makes no sense in the context of the email, then you should probably ignore it.  Clicking on a risky attachment can open your computer up to viruses and hazardous material.  So, in this case, don’t gamble with chance and you will remain secure.

Handling email can be tricky.  Hackers are becoming smarter and are targeting greater numbers of people every day.  If you encounter any of the above scenarios or are unsure if the email you received is authentic or fake, don’t click on anything.  Instead, consult your IT provider and they will decide the appropriate course of action.  All in all, remain alert.  By following the above guide, you will surely avoid clicking on dangerous emails.

If you’d like to know more about how CRU Solutions can help keep your business safer, contact us.