Anybody who has ever owned an email address will tell you that spam messages are a pain. As web designers, we get hundreds of spam messages a day, and recently, we have had some that are just a little bit too convincing…

Cyber security is one of the most important things that you can invest your time in to, and keeping your identity and your computer safe should always be of paramount importance. The first step to keeping you and your business safe online is emails.

We all get spam emails. There is nothing we can do about it, and we’ve learnt to accept it as a part of our daily routine. We open our email program, delete the 20 spam messages offering us dodgy tablets, Nigerian millions and too-good-to-be-true discount electronics. Sometimes though, we come across an email that catches our attention.

The email you see pictured came in to our inbox today. As a company that uses Dropbox and regularly collects files from clients, we had to double take. It made us realise how easily somebody could click on a rogue link without really thinking about it. It prompted us to write this article.

Staying safe online

So what can you do to keep yourself safe? Firstly, check any email that you are not sure of. Spammers will often send emails resembling famous brand emails such as Amazon, PayPal, eBay and Dropbox to name just a few.

Before you click on a link in an email, just hover over it with your mouse. This will bring up a status bar in the bottom left of your email program or your browser (depending on which method you use to collect email). Check the link carefully. Make sure it starts with the website your are expecting. For example, if you have received a message from Dropbox, then the web address will start with https://www.dropbox.com/ or some variant. What it shouldn’t start with isĀ http://myspammywebaddress.co.nz/

Check the Sender

Do you recognise the address that the email has come from? Spammers can make it seem as though the message is legitimate using the email ‘From’ field. In the past, spammers used to be able to ‘spoof’ the email address in the message, but improvements to email programs and spam filters have made this less common. This means that you should be able to see the real address that the email was sent from.

Checking the sender however, is not fool proof. A lot of companies now use external programs to send their emails, such as MailChimp or Emma. If this is the case, then the email address that the message comes from may be an auto-generated mailing list email. For example, john.smith@mywebsiteaddress-51b1ad879ca8.intercom-mail.com.

Scan for viruses

Most modern anti virus programs such as Windows Defender, Avast and AVG can offer a full email scanner as part of their core program. If you are in any doubt about an email or its attachment, then request a manual scan using your antivirus software. This will flag up potential viruses and can safely quarantine and remove the file directly.

If in doubt, seek advice

Still not sure if an email is legitimate? Do not be afraid to ask somebody in the know. If you have an IT professional who looks after your computers, they can advise you as to whether you should remove the email. You could also call your local IT or computer company, who should be able to give you advise.

 

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