Email is one of the most convenient channels for exchanging information, but it’s also the one where you probably receive the most unsolicited messages. These could be run-of-the-mill advertisements of shady get-rich-quick schemes or promotional offers for supplements that haven’t been approved by the Food and Drug Administration. But these could also be serious attempts to break into your online accounts, spread malware, and steal your data and money.
While commercial messages are annoying, they’re not a significant threat. Email service providers typically filter and flag these emails as spam, and those that get past the filter are easy enough to identify and remove. Attacks carried out by cybercriminals, however, are more dangerous and may be harder to curb.
It’s important that you and your employees learn how to spot and avoid the following types of risky spam emails.
Phishing is a simple yet highly effective kind of cyberattack. It involves a malicious actor posing as a trustworthy entity to obtain sensitive information or spread malware. Once you hand over your login credentials or credit card details, they can use these to commit identity theft or charge purchases to your credit card. They can even infiltrate your network to install malware and gain access to confidential business data.
An unmistakable indicator of a phishing email is it requires you to perform an urgent task. This could be to verify your account, reset your password, pay for a purchase you never made, and other similar requests. Other telltale signs of a phishing email include:
- Poor grammar
- Mismatched display name and email address
- Generic greeting
- Multiple recipients
- Suspicious links, buttons, and forms
- Unsolicited attachments
Since phishing emails are designed to take advantage of a brand's prominence as well as human ignorance, it won’t hurt to be extra careful when receiving unsolicited emails. Verify if the email is legitimate by contacting the supposed sender using official channels.
These typically involve promises of a significant share of a sizable sum of money in exchange for a small upfront payment or “processing fee.” Once you pay the fraudster, they either demand a series of more fees or simply disappear.
Perhaps the most recognizable advance-fee scams are Nigerian prince scams. These begin with emails from someone claiming to be royalty from another country. They lure you by offering part of an immense fortune or investment opportunity that they can’t access without your help. Then, they ask for your bank account information — so they can transfer the money to you for safekeeping — or an advance fee to cover the expense of transferring the funds. That’s when the fraudsters run off with your money or, worse, drain your bank account.
Another dangerous variation of advance-fee scams is one that involves turning unwitting victims into money mules. Scammers will offer you a “Collection Agent” job, but what they’ll actually do is use your bank account to launder their dirty money. They’ll even let you keep part of the funds for acting as the middleman, but when the police come knocking, it will be most likely on your door and not theirs.
Scams like these seem straightforward, so why do people still fall for them? It’s because scammers make use of social engineering tactics that involve psychological manipulation, playing on the victims’ empathy, vanity, or greed. Here’s what you should do to safeguard your business from social engineering attacks.
Malicious spam emails or malspam carry harmful links or infected attachments. Similar to phishing emails and advance-fee scams, malspam relies on coaxing or tricking recipients into performing an action that’s often against their better judgment. In this case, they force you to click a download link or open an attachment, which automatically infects your computer with malware. These could be ransomware, spyware, Trojans, keyloggers, and more.
Once a cybercriminal gains access to your computer systems, they can use these to steal credentials and financial information, spread even more malware, or send out more spam.
As with the first two spam types, it’s imperative that you double, triple, quadruple check the email’s authenticity. It also helps to invest in reliable security software to protect yourself against the latest malware.
Safeguard your business from potentially malicious spam emails and other cyberthreats by partnering with Safebit . Call us today and we’ll help you come up with a comprehensive and proactive cybersecurity solution that will ensure your systems and devices are always safe and secure.