With the amount of email your business sends and receives every day, it's likely that you've encountered a malicious email of some variety. Email threats are one of the most pressing security matters that business owners face, and it's critical that email users remain vigilant to safeguard against attacks.
Email security requires multiple avenues of safety. Add-ons, such as spam filters and anti-virus software, are crucial first steps in threat protection. However, training employees to be skeptical of emails, and enabling them to recognize malicious emails, is one of the most important aspects of protection.
There are several aspects of malicious emails that you can learn to recognize: content, attachment, and senders. Knowing all the clues are crucial, as many malicious emails seem to be legitimate.
For businesses, content clues can vary. For example, employees may understand that requests for sensitive information like passwords or credit card information are fraudulent. However, many malicious senders have addressed this by including links that appear real but take users to phishing sites. Similarly, "follow up" emails or emails that indicate a change has been made or a login attempt occured are also likely phishing scams and should be ignored.
Always avoid opening attachments from unknown senders. But what about senders that seem legitimate? If you weren't expecting anything, follow up with the sender to find out if the attachment should be opened. Certain formats can be red flags, like .exe, .msi, and others.
Businesses can have a hard time knowing whether or not senders are real, especially if they receive emails from many different people and organizations. However, there are a few clues to look for to spot malicious senders. First, if it does seem like a known sender, take note if the message seems off. Next, check to see if the email address matches the domain. Many malicious senders have sophisticated messages, so look at the sending email address closely.