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Unfortunately, everyone with an email account will receive spam emails at some point. Your spam filter should catch most of them, but every now and then spam will find a way to slip into your inbox. Most spam mail isn’t difficult to spot, but occasionally you’ll find one that looks legitimate. If you encounter one of these genuine-looking fakes, these are a few steps you can take discover the truth.
HOW TO SPOT SPAM
It’s in your best interest to avoid spam emails. In addition to being a waste of time, they can threaten the security and performance of your computer. Although not all spam is dangerous, the ones that are can contain harmful malware or suspicious URLs that could expose your personal information. Learning about what to be aware of can help protect you from the consequences of clicking on spam.
LOOK AT THE EMAIL ADDRESS
One way to authenticate an email is to analyze the sender’s web address. A message from a legitimate company will be sent from a server that hosts the company’s website. This means the domain section of the address will contain the company’s name (e.g. firstname.lastname@example.org). Emails that claim to be from a company but use a domain from a free email service are a telltale sign the message is fraudulent.
This method of detection isn’t perfect, however. If someone were to set up a rogue server, they could use a legitimate domain for the email address. Fortunately, the domain name is the only thing that can be forged; the spammer won’t be able to hide the source of the message.
Finding the source will differ depending on what email service you’re using. This can be done easily on Gmail by clicking the “More Details” arrow immediately below the sender’s name. For other email services, you’ll need to look at the full email header.
WHAT DOES THE EMAIL SAY?
Another way to protect yourself from spam messages is to take a look at the content within. Junk emails are often littered with mistakes. Spammers don’t necessarily care about whether the message is coherent—they’re just focused on getting you to click.
Typical mistakes include grammatical and spelling errors, poor graphic layouts, and mismatching the sender’s name and signature. You also should look out for messages that urge you to act immediately or within a designated number of hours.
Most professional organizations won’t ask you for your personal data via an email. The companies you do give your information to will likely already have it on hand, so they don’t need to ask. If you do run in to a message requesting data such as your Social Security number, driver’s license number, or similar personally identifying information (PII), this could be an attempt at identity theft by the spammer.
SUSPICIOUS ATTACHMENTS AND UNFAMILIAR LINKS
Suspicious-looking attachments or bizarre URLs are common red flags for spam. If you’re unsure about the attachments or don’t recognize the links contained in the email, that message should be avoided. This type of spam likely contains malware that will affect the performance of your device.
DON’T GET TRICKED BY SPAM—ITQUE CAN HELP
ITque controls and manages spam attacks with multiple, enterprise-grade tools that can:
- Identify and stop spam BEFORE it gets to your mail server (Reflexion)
- Eliminate any spam that makes it to your mail server (SentinelOne)
- Train your staff to spot spam, phishing and other malicious attacks (KnowBe4)
ITque’s specialties are Network Security and Data Security, so we know how to lock down your network and data securely and protect your critical data.
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San Jose, CA 95113