Email This Post Email This Post

Elaine’s Security Minute: Email – Is it Good or Is it Bad?

Photo of Elaine Rouse
We all live our lives in the digital world, knowing how dangerous it is. It’s like going to the beach in the summer and swimming in the ocean. We know there are dangers in the ocean, but we take precautions to keep ourselves safe. How can we do that with our email?

The first thing to remember with email is this: treat all your email with suspicion – even email from a trusted friend or source. Always take that pause to think before you open any email. It could mean the difference between enjoying news from an old friend or taking your computer in to have it cleaned up, or even worse. So, what’s next? Here are some basic rules for handling email and looking for clues that it might not be what it appears.

  1. The email address does not match the display name. Below is an example of an email that is spoofing a legitimate person in order to trick the recipient into opening it.

  1. The email conveys a sense of urgency and requests you take some type of action. Criminals will try to trick you into thinking something bad is going to happen if you don’t click on the link in the email.
  2. The link in the email takes you to a different site than what it says. You can easily find out where a link will actually take you by hovering your mouse pointer over the link. Depending on your email provider, either a pop-up window will show you where the link is taking you, or the link will appear at the bottom of the window. Below is an example of a link called “My Puppies” along with a screen capture of where that link actually takes you:

  1. There is an attachment, and the email is encouraging you to open the attachment. It is wise to consider all attachments as malicious until you have confirmed with the sender that they did, in fact, send it to you.
  1. The message in the email sounds too good to be true.

Even if you receive an email from someone you know very well, you still have to be careful. Many emails today are designed to trick you into giving out your username and password for your email account so that criminals can take control of it (without you even knowing) and start sending email to all your contacts posing as you. In this case, the name and the email address will match, but it’s not you sending the email – it’s a criminal posing as you!

The safest thing you can do with any email that just doesn’t feel right is to call the person who sent it and verify before clicking any links or opening any attachments. Take that pause and stay safe!

By Elaine Rouse