To Open, or Not to Open? The Value of Caution with Unfamiliar Emails
11th January 2017
Today, it appears that fewer people are simply allowing emails from unknown senders to slip through their inbox into the "SPAM" or "JUNK" folder, and more are being tricked into clicking on messages and attachments that seem to be from genuine sources.
While it's often difficult to determine whether an email from an unknown sender is malicious or not, it's crucial to be cautious about any document that you choose to open on your computer. Internet security breaches, company-wide problems, and viruses can all come from email attachments and suspicious HTML.
The Problem with "Just Opening" Emails
Too frequently, people regard junk email in the same way that they would junk paper mail. Unfortunately, there's a huge difference. While your physical mailing address is public knowledge, your email address is not - so simply receiving contact from someone you don't know should be enough to spark suspicion.
Many online users don't realise that even if they neglect to download any of the attachments included in malicious emails, there's still an opportunity for hidden codes to be located within the HTML structure. These secretive sources of destruction can still hurt a reader, whether you download an attachment or not.
Viruses Aren't the Only Issue
Crucially, the threat of viruses and malware aren't the only concern that businesses and individual users have to face when it comes to considering the dangers of unrecognised emails. Many criminals across the web today have the capacity to set up complex backgrounds for themselves that can help them to appear as legitimate business people when they approach other professionals.
For instance, you may be sent an email regarding financial transfer information that claims to come from your own directors - designed to scam you into setting up payments. It's crucial to note that malicious people can easily find the details of business finance teams and contact them through email to set up payments - all while pretending to be a legitimate business owner. Some committed individuals may even set up their own .com domains to promote their authenticity.
Protecting yourself From Unknown Emails
As the complexity and detail that goes into many online scams continue to grow, it can be difficult to separate authentic emails from dangerous messages. The best way to protect yourself is to be cautious, whenever you receive an email, ask yourself:
- Can you track down the sender of the email - has anyone else heard of them or had interactions with them before?
- Are there any suspicious files attached?
- If the address is unfamiliar, can you find out from another authority in your business whether you should be expecting an email from an unverified sender?
While most of the time, unfamiliar email addresses should be restricted to your JUNK folder, the most important rule to remember is: always show caution.