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Avoid Phishing Emails in 4 Easy Steps

Everyone receives phishing emails.  Even with the best spam filters and firewalls, emails that appear to be from someone familiar come through to inboxes across the world.   Some are obvious with text unrelated to the person’s hobbies and preferences.  Others are related to topics that relate to personal interests, from websites previously visited or from a friend, colleague or even a supervisor.   Related phishing emails trick even the most savvy computer user.  Cyber criminals have many weapons to discover personal information and make each email appear to be legitimate.  Phishing emails are the most common way hackers gain valuable company information.

What can you and your employees do to prevent falling prey to a convincing phishing email?  How can you help your employees escape the perils of phishing emails that compromise business data?  Employee education is the key to avoiding security breaches.

4 Easy Steps to Avoid Phishing Emails

Check the email of the sender

Check email address of sender for a clue of who it is from by hovering the cursor over the sender’s name.  The name may look like it’s from a known sender but the email address could be random.  For instance, the email could appear that it is from a friend named Mary.  However when the cursor is hovered over the email address, it shows uiols@hyprsped.umc which is unrelated to Mary.  Do not reply to this sender.

Don’t click links from unknown senders

Advertising emails can be alluring especially when it is related to a product that is interesting.  Unfortunately, there are companies that find what is interesting to you by looking at recent website searches, company website information or even social media posts.  Then the product link may contain ransomware or a virus that can infect the computer or even the entire business network.  To avoid many phishing attempts, hover over the link to see if it matches where you want to go or even better, go to the website directly from the web browser.

Don’t give personal information out through email

Phishing emails are looking for personal information like user names, passwords or other personal information that might give them access to a computer or network.  Even if it appears that a supervisor or owner is requesting information, call the person to confirm the information is needed before replying.  It is one extra step but it can save the network from a breach.

Be wary of emails that request information with urgency or try to frighten the reader

Phishing emails are frequently used to scare the reader into acting quickly instead of taking the usual precautions to avoid issues.  If the email is from a supervisor and asks urgently for a password before the system crashes or the big deal is lost, be suspicious.  Of course, every employee wants assist in the big deal but always call a known number first to double check before giving a password.  Never use a phone number given in an email to call to check but find the number through your own trusted source.

Sometimes even with these precautions, a phishing email is so well done even a user that is cyber aware can be caught with a virus or ransomware.  So it is important to have frequent back ups scheduled and excellent antivirus software that is updated regularly.  Great IT support is also imperative for any business to set up any preventative measures and help overcome any crisis.

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