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How to spot dangerous links in emails

How do you spot dangerous links in emails that might lead to Viruses, Malware and Ransomware?

There has been a growing number of cases where hackers are sending emails pretending to be well known companies, encouraging you to click a link in the email. Clicking this link may take to webpages where Malware, Viruses and Ransomware are downloaded to your device.

Hackers are getting smarter and are testing which methods work best. Recently they have been targeting businesses by looking up your domain registration details (the so called Whois look up). They would then use this information to pretend to be your hosting company notifying you about a change in your account. It all looks very legitimate and many people have been tricked into clicking on the link.

Try not to open them

Most of the hoax emails you receive will appear in your inbox named as the pretend company. So, it will appear to come from say “FedEx” and you will see the subject line. Firstly, the subject line, if written badly, can be an indication of whether or not the email is genuine. Although opening the email won’t cause a Virus, Malware or Ransomware; opening the email will be an indication to the hackers that your email address is active and that you are likely to open their emails. This means more dangerous emails will surely follow.

If you have already opened one

If you have opened the email the first thing you may notice is that something doesn’t feel right. It may be the font, or the design or the wording. Hackers are getting very good at copying company fonts and branding so be careful.

Normally the email content tries to provoke a reaction of curiosity, If you feel confused or curious about an email, it’s normally a sign that you need to complete the next steps.

Firstly depending on your email client, the true identity of the email sender can be found by looking at the sender’s email address. This is normally be found at the top of the email next to the name.

Or by clicking the name at the top of the email in iPhones or iPad. If you are still unsure whether the email is genuine and you are curious of clicking the link, hovering your mouse pointer over the link in Laptop or PC (Do Not Click) will show you the destination of the link. If this again doesn’t contain the correct web address of the company, it is more than likely a spam email.

If ever in doubt most companies will provide a help sheet on their website about any fraudulent emails they are aware of. However, problems can even lie here. Only obtain information from trusted websites, hackers often create webpages offering a solution to the fake emails. The hackers search optimise these pages to get them to the top of Google. These pages are again dangerous and will instruct you to cause further damage to device or network by downloading further Malware, Viruses or Ransomware.

We advise a combination of Fortinet firewalls and managed anti-virus as the front-line against hackers. Please give us a call to learn more.