Preventing Attacks Through Email Security Vigilance

Email is so ingrained in our way of life it is difficult to remember what it was like to do business before that was the case. Companies run on email—we could not function in today’s professional environment without it. And, while IT services and security have made enormous strides, we still have to be vigilant about spam, viruses, and malware.

A Look at The Numbers

According to a report from the Radicati Group]( http://www.radicati.com/wp/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/Email-Statistics-R...), 100 billion email message were sent every day in 2014. We can extrapolate how much that number has increased in the last three years. And, since most computer viruses originate from email, that is a lot of messages to be screened for threats.

Beyond having your IT service implement spam filters and firewalls, there are things you can do in-house to help protect your business from attack. Here are some things for you and your employees to be aware of when receiving and sending emails.

Monitoring Messages

When receiving emails, there are some basic precautions that everyone should take. Before you even open a message, be cautious of messages from unknown senders or “known” senders where the domain does not match the sender info. For example, if you get an email from Yelp! but the return address says bbsmith@xyzabc.plx don’t open it. Also, rely on your instincts if you receive an email from someone you know, but something seems off—blank or odd subject line—err on the side of caution.

Attachment Awareness

Email attachments one of the most common virus threats since opening on can expose your computer to foreign or malicious code. Always be smart when handling attachments: never open an attachment from an unknown sender or source.

Another red flag to look form is unusual file formats, such as a .exe file which can run automatically on your computer once it is opened. Others to watch out for are .msi, .bat, .cmd, .reg, and .js, as well as .zip files. Also be aware of files with an “m” on them such as .docm as this signifies a macro, which is a programming code that is sometimes used to hide malicious code or attacks.

Encryption might seem like a good thing, but often encrypted or password protected attachments can be dangerous since they block your computer from scanning them before they open. When in doubt, check with you IT services staff before opening unfamiliar files even if they are from a known source.

Be Smart if Suspicious

If you get a message requesting personal or financial information, avoid it at all costs. It may seem obvious, but phishing and email scams are still one of the most common threats today. Use your good instincts and never open or reply to a message that asks for data or money.

Another hacker trick is sending “follow up” or “reply” emails to make you think you have had previous contact with them. If you know you did not enter a contest or previously correspond with the sender, but the email indicates that you did, delete it and report it to your IT department.

It is up to IT services to install monitoring and filtering systems to weed out spam, malware, and other forms of cyberattacks. And, your IT staff, whether it is in-house or a third-party IT services provider, must train and educate employees on the reality of threats and the importance of remaining vigilant.

Need help securing your email or protecting your network, contact us for a free tech assessment.