Email is one of the most common ways we communicate today.  With over 4.3 billion email users forecasted to be active by 2023, it’s easy to understand why email is one the of most commonly used means for contacting someone.  This is why hackers, spammers, and cybercriminals use email as a means to try and reach potential victims.  Protecting yourself and your employees from harmful email practices can seem like an impossible task, but with a few easy preventative measures you can stay protected from potential harm.

How Can an Email Harm Your Business?

In today’s business world, you have to use email to contact customers, keep in touch with team members, and reach out to suppliers.  It is arguably the most practical way to quickly send and receive correspondence to someone today.  That’s why cybercriminals, like hackers, use email as a means to extract data or plant harmful malware on a victim’s computer.

There are several methods that a hacker might use to exploit a potential victim via email.  Often, they may send you an email that looks like it is coming from a reputable company, like Microsoft or Amazon, for example.  The message might say something, like your password has been exposed, or that your bank account has been hacked into.  In such instances, they will request that you click on a link that is embedded within the email message in order to reset your password or secure your data. The reality, however, is that you are actually unknowingly giving away your information to a cybercriminal.

These types of emails are called phishing attacks and they can lead to serious data or financial damage to you or your company.  It’s important to identify possible phishing emails and report messages you suspect of being illegitimate to your email provider, like Natural Networks, so that the sender can be blocked.  There are normally some tell-tale signs that an email is from a scammer looking to steal data from you.

First of all, check to make sure that the sender really is who they say they are.  An email that states it was sent from your bank, for example, may just have the name of the bank. If you examine the header of the message and look closely at the From field, however, it should also reveal which email address sent the message.  Cybercriminals will obscure their email address by using a legit sounding name but reflect a strange email address.  If you don’t recognize the email address that is sending to you, it’s best not to respond.

If an email is asking you for specific information such as bank account details, and you’re just not sure if it’s legitimate or not, then it is always a better idea to contact your bank or the organization they claim is requesting the information directly rather than responding to the email.

Emails can also have other potentially harmful contents within them as well.  An email message could contain images or hidden code that might activate malware causing harm to your computer.  If you receive a message from someone you don’t recognize or the message has a bizarre title, it’s okay to look at it – just don’t open any attachments or click on any links.

Also, be aware of potentially destructive attachments in email messages.  Attachments can contain malware or other viruses that can run on your computer without you even knowing it.  Always be sure that an email that has an attachment is from someone you are expecting an attachment from.  Running an up-to-date anti-virus software on your computer can also help limit the potential harm from emails with infected attachments.

Preventing Yourself and Your Employee’s from Harmful Email Dangers

Prevention is one of the best ways to defend your employees and yourself from harmful emails like phishing scams or infected messages.  Educating your employees about what to look for in an email that could be dangerous and how to dispose of it can go a long way in preventing data loss, infection, and other problems.  For example, training your staff not to click on a link in a message right away can prevent them from opening up an infected website.  You can always hover the mouse over the link without clicking it and reveal the full address of the website it will go to.  A link might say but may actually be going to a completely different site altogether.

Other services, such as a spam filter, can also go a long way in preventing harmful email messages from reaching you and your team in the first place.  Natural Networks is a managed IT services provider who provides email to their clients and offers a robust spam filtering service.  Spam filters filter out possibly harmful messages that could contain malware or phishing scams.  Natural Networks also offers training for your employees to help them identify phishing emails and discard them before they can become a problem.

Natural Networks is a managed IT services provider, and we can help you and your business with best email practices and other safe methods while conducting business.  If you’re interested in learning more, give us a call today!