Two days ago, after a “busy as all get out” holiday weekend of spending time with family and friends, and, eating way too much, I stumble into the office in search of coffee. While I wait for that first cup of java to brew, I boot up my computer in hopes that I have no emails to check or follow up on. Denied! Again! I find that of all the email in my Inbox, there are only a handful of real or important emails, the rest is junk.
I see the familiar sight of the usual poorly thought out “I am spam emails”, but I then notice that the bad guys are getting a bit sneakier. They continue to send me offers to “click here” and “confirm this” and “update that” all in hopes of me downloading the next virus. While, I am not an IT expert by any means, I do know enough to second guess these emails. But I do have to give the bad guys some credit this time! They are proving once again that they really are tricky and up to no good. While I didn’t “click here” to check my outlook settings, I did notice that the email appeared to be coming from my company. The sender was the “administrator” at our company and the subject line looked very serious, and official: “Important – New Outlook Settings”.
Deep down, I knew that this wasn’t real; but, I did double check with my network administrator. He confirmed for me that it was indeed spam and was trying to put a virus on my computer. He asked me to just delete the email and then empty my trash folder. Well, this got me thinking – which by the way was way too early for that. If I am unsure, and I work in IT, what are my clients thinking about when they get these types of emails.
So, I did a little research to find out what people should look for when they receive these types of emails. Here is the advice I was given:
If you receive something that has a “.zip” file attached, Trash it! If the email has a direct link that wants you to click it, DON’T. Instead, if you want to make sure that you are not mistaking a real email with a spam, open a fresh new window in your browser and manually type in the company’s URL, there you can review and confirm the information. If it’s coming from someone you know, just pick up the phone and call them and make sure they did in fact send you the email.
To top it off, while I was doing this research, I received another email from booking.com! It was confirming that my hotel reservation for one night, in the amount of $2,248 had successfully processed!!!! WHAT????? I don’t think so! I know that I would never book a room for that much money. But the bad guy was nice enough to provide me with a “click here” to check, review or cancel my reservation. Normally, I wouldn’t even give this kind of email a second thought, however my wife and I were just talking about booking a vacation… And since my coffee was still trying to get me moving, I almost clicked it to see what my wife had decided upon. But then I caught it! My wife wouldn’t send it to my work email. She would simply tell me where we were going and when we were going. (Like I would really get a say in it anyway, LOL.)
I guess my advice on these sneaky emails is a lot like the advice I tell my daughters “… don’t open the front door for anyone that you don’t know! You don’t want to let a stranger in the house and let them do something bad, do you?”
So you don’t have to be afraid of opening your emails, just be cautious of opening any links and attachments. Where they can get you is that the bad guys can easily present themselves as friends, colleagues, or respected companies that we would normally trust, like the administrator, helpdesk, or customer service.
Hopefully this will help in stopping you from clicking on an unwanted virus – But if you are still unsure, please “Click here” to learn more! LOL, just kidding! You know better than that. You can however Google terms like Trojan horse, Worms, Virus, etc. to learn more about how viruses and worms spread in email. Hint, you may want to add “email” to your search terms. No guessing where those search terms could take you.
I’m going back to my coffee now.