Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Handling Suspicious Email Messages

There has been significant increase in the circulation of spam and malicious emails in the recent past. In this article we will discuss how to handel suspicious email messages. It is very important for you to identify the spam and take steps to safeguard yourself against potential threats.

How to identify spam without opening the message?

A malicious email can infect your system immediately. Downloading a file from a suspicious email is enough to infect your system, including a PDF. Do not open suspicious or unsolicited emails.

It is recommended :

  • Do not open suspicious emails
  • Try to identify a message as spam by looking at the 'From' field and the 'Subject' line. If the sender and the domain (@company.com) does not relate to the subject, the message is probably spam
  • Never trust emails that are trying to sell you something or unknown clients. Ask yourself, does the sender identify you by your name? If the answer is no, the message is spam. 

You can identify spam emails by looking at the 'From' field, if :

  • You get any email with your name in as the sender (which you may not have sent) 
  • The 'From' field is blank or generic (example: friend, try this, etc.)
  • The mail has strange name or all numbers – 9222594_1970@tst-inc.com 
  • Has scrambled, random-appearing addresses – X12YT853@yahoo.com 
  • Is from someone you do not recognize or from a domains like yahoo.com, gmail.com, msn.com, hotmail.com. Attackers use these domains to send spam 
  • If the message is from another country, especially, if you do not work regularly with them (Example - m5wangzhi@wahaha.com.cn – here CN means the domain is China) 

You can identify spam emails by looking at the 'Subject' field, if :

  • The subject is unrelated to your work profile or domain (example: Do you want to get rich?) 
  • There are strange characters in the subject (example: best m0rtgage qu0te!s") 
  • There are obvious spelling errors (Example: buy yourself Bacheelor/MasteerMBA/Doctoraate dip1omas)
  • The subject is outrageous or doesn't make any sense (Example: BREAKING NEWS: Nuts! Jackson Backs Neutering Stray Politicians)
  • The subject appears to be an order of confirmation for something you did not order (Example: Your Tracking # 77328515")
  • Your email address is in the subject line, this is usually done to gain your interest to open the email
  • The subject line indicates an important notification ("Install update for Microsoft Outlook"), and the message appears to be from the vendor (for example, Microsoft). Remember, Patches can be installed by clicking on Start -> Control Panel -> Windows Update

Immediately delete emails that recommend you to :

  • Make money or collect lottery winnings 
  • Get a greeting card sent by a friend 
  • Send confidential details 
  • Provide your bank account number or other personal financial information, even if the sender offers to deposit money into it 
  • Provide money up-front for questionable activities, a processing fee, or to pay the cost of a money transfer
  • Executable files as part of attachments