We all rely on and often take email for granted – both in our personal and work environment. With the rapid growth of mobile devices and Wi-Fi and data networks available world wide, email is easily accessible 24/7, from anywhere in the world. This is the main reason that email has become a commonplace target for people to send you unwanted communications that are at best annoying, and at worst a threat to you.
Top email Safety Points:
- Never click on links, or open attachments, in emails from unknown sources or those which you suspect to be hoax or fraudulent.
- Get to know the tell-tale signs of fraudulent emails and make a habit of checking emails you receive.
- Don not forward or respond to emails you suspect of being fraudulent.
- Manually type in website addresses you know to be correct, rather than clicking on links, however authentic they may seem.
- In the workplace, report scam and spam emails to your IT department, who will take the appropriate action.
- Even emails which appear to have been sent by people known to you could be fraudulent, if their email account has been hacked.
- ‘Unsubscribe’ request links at the bottom of emails could also be fraudulent.
Beware of Phishing Scams
A phishing scam, is an attempt to obtain personal information by impersonating a familiar organization or person. These emails will look like they are coming from a genuine email address. A phishing email will typically tell you that your account is going to expire or that some “service” needs to update your account. You may also be asked for your name, username, password, and other identification information.
Be Alert with Attachments in Emails
Sometimes a scammer or phisher will attempt to gain control of your computer by sending you an email attachment that has a virus embedded inside of it. The best way to protect against this is to not open attachments from email addresses you are unfamiliar with.
Sometimes spammers will include an “Unsubscribe From This List” link in their email messages. This makes them seem more responsible and reputable but in actuality, they use this as a way to confirm your email address so they can send you more spam emails.
If you have an email in your inbox you do not want, mark it as Spam and delete it. Google is very good at remembering what types of emails you mark as spam. The more spam emails you mark, the more that Google will help divert from your inbox.
Turn On Your Filters
Most of the well known email clients such as Microsoft, Gmail and Hotmail come built-in with spam filters of varying tolerance levels. Make sure that yours is switched on. Further to this, many filters can be customised to allow mail from certain trusted sources, and reject mail from untrusted sources that you specify. Make use of this, as it can be a big help when it comes to using email safely. It is a good idea to occasionally check your junk folder to ensure the filters are working properly.
Most email clients offer ways to mark an email as spam or report instances of spam. Reporting spam will also help to prevent the messages from being directly delivered to your inbox.
Summary of Tips for Avoiding Being a Email Victim:
- Do not reveal personal or financial information in an email, and do not respond to email solicitations for this information. This includes following links sent in email.
- Before sending or entering sensitive personal information online, check the security of the website.
- Pay attention to the website’s URL. Malicious websites may look identical to a legitimate site, but the URL may use a variation in spelling or a different domain (e.g., .com.au versus .net.au).
- If you are unsure whether an email request is legitimate, try to verify it by contacting the company directly. Contact the company using information provided on an account statement, not information provided in an email. Check out the Anti-Phishing Working Group (APWG) to learn about known phishing attacks and/or report phishing.
- Keep a clean machine. Keep all software on internet-connected devices – including PCs, smartphones and tablets – up to date to reduce risk of infection from malware.
What to Do if You become a Victim:
- Report it to the appropriate people within the organization, including network administrators. They can be alert for any suspicious or unusual activity.
- If you believe your financial accounts may be compromised, contact your financial institution immediately and close the account(s).
- Watch for any unauthorized charges to your account.
- Consider reporting the attack to your local police department, and file a report with the Australian Scam Watch Site.
Protect Yourself With These Tips:
- Links in email, tweets, posts and online advertising are often how cyber-criminals try to compromise your information. If it looks suspicious, even if you know the source, it’s best to delete or – if appropriate – mark it as junk.
- Be wary of communications that implores you to act immediately, offers something that sounds too good to be true or asks for personal information.
- Make your password a sentence: A strong password is a sentence that is at least 12 characters long. Focus on positive sentences or phrases that you like to think about and are easy to remember (for example, “I love country cats.”). On many sites, you can even use spaces!
- Having separate passwords for every account helps to thwart cyber-criminals. At a minimum, separate your work and personal accounts and make sure that your critical accounts have the strongest passwords.
- Fortify your online accounts by enabling the strongest authentication tools available, such as bio-metrics, security keys or a unique one-time code through an app on your mobile device. Your usernames and passwords are not enough to protect key accounts like email, banking and social media.