If only spam were true. You would have thousands in unclaimed money, cute singles would be lining up to meet you, and there would be a magic pill that would revolutionize your personal life. Some spam is so ridiculous they are instantly deleted, others are more subtle and dangerous. Here are some threats to watch out for before you open that unsolicited email.
There is some good news on the spam frontline. A few years ago, spam accounted for 85% of all email received by businesses. Now, thanks to advancements in antivirus technology and the take-down of major spam generators like Grum Botnet, the number shrank to 67% for July 2012, according to the Kaspersky Lab, a spam tracking group. Although, letting your guard down is still not a good idea, what spammers lost in volume, they made up for in intensity. In July 2012, there was a 50% increase in the number of emails containing malicious files.
Most of these malicious files can only be activated if you decide to open them and download the attachment, or visit the link. This means that, even with the best antivirus software, the last defense for your computer lies with you, and your ability to judge the legitimacy of the message. We will show you five warning signs to look out for, if you see any of these, don’t take a chance, delete and move on.
Unsolicited Unknown Sender
If you don’t recognize the sender and the message is unsolicited, then whatever they are selling, you don’t want it. If you regularly get emails from unknown senders (maybe a customer is reaching out to you), and you have to open it, do not open any unknown links or attachments. If you need to open the attachment and still have doubt, it is worth it to contact the sender and double check. Also keep in mind the wording of the title and content of the email itself, be weary of anything that is full of generic content or improper grammar.
Known Sender, Or Is it?
Sometimes the sender and the title of the email will look real, but alas, it is yet another scam. Through a practice called email spoofing, the email header of a trusted source is pirated and the content is adjusted to solicit you something. Sometimes “To” and “From” will be used in the title with your own name and you own email address (I don’t remember sending that, let me check). Other times they will include the names of people you trust to spoof you. It get’s worse, if your own email account has been “spoofed,” then spammers are soliciting others in your name. If this is going on in your inbox, contact PACE Technical Services right way at 905.763.7896 and we will track down the source and block the IP address.
Known Sender, Odd Behavior
Similar to spoofing is having your email compromised. When this happens your email account is hacked into, taken over, and spams are sent out in your name. Even if your account has not been hacked into, you may have received suspicious emails from people in your contact folder who have been compromised. These compromised messages are uncharacteristic from what the senders usually write about and should be disregarded, and as a courtesy, contact the real sender and let them know they have been hacked.
Sender Asking for Sensitive Data
Phishing is a common tactic spammers use to trick you into giving them sensitive information. Many of the above schemes are used to get you to open the email, and once they have your attention, the con is on. The email is disguised to look like it is from your bank, PayPal, a government office, social network, or any other group that you trust. The scammers will even directly rip off sign up pages and graphics from the companies, and reproduce them in your email. As a big rule, never give away any of your sensitive data within your email, no companies operate this way. If a legitimate company needs your info, it will all be done over their official website, phone, or in person.
Sender Needs Your Help
If you receive a solicitation from a stranger in a foreign land, sharing their tearful story how they are stuck in a bad country and a need a donation to escape, and you will be paid back with interest, delete that sucker. This is called a 419 Advance Fee Fraud, a heart-tugging story is included, it is full of personal details about the victim, yet vague enough to apply to anyone. Unlike the other scams, the 419 scheme is totally blatant and worth mentioning because people do fall for it every day. You can run across these on Facebook as well.
At PACE Technical Services, we specialize in network protection. If you suspect that your email is compromised, or need security solutions that include antivirus software or an offsite quarantine to check suspicious emails, then call us at at 905.763.7896 and let us protect you.