Trick-or-Treat: 3 Ways to Tell You’re Being Phished via Email

Sparky
Oct. 10, 2018 by Sparky

The amount of digital data available today is astounding. Similarly incredible is the increasingly complex application of data. In the hands of the right people, data has the potential to make our lives exponentially better. But, in the hands of internet ghouls and goblins more commonly known as phishers, a lot of damage can be done.

How can you tell that you’re being phished? Here are a few clues that something could be amiss:

Something just doesn’t seem right

Every morning you review the balance notice your bank emails daily. You can’t put your finger on it, but something about today’s email isn’t the same. Is it the font? The tone? Perhaps there’s a sense of urgency that isn’t normally there? Trust your gut. Those who send malicious emails are counting on catching your brain off guard. For one, your brain processes images faster than text. If you’re in a hurry, you may find yourself clicking that malicious link after your brain OKs the logo but before it has time to process anything else. Another attempt the bad guys make at bypassing the brain is to temporarily distract your reasoning skills by adding a sense of legitimacy and time sensitivity to the email. Bottom line? Obey your instincts. If you sense that something is off, it probably is.

You spot a suspicious email address or URL

Emails contain all sorts of identifying information. Although the bad guys try to cover their tracks as they forge their way through, the fakes are easy to detect if you know what to look for.

Mismatched URLs

An email that includes multiple links is nothing out of the ordinary. That said, If you are on a computer,  hover over the hyperlinked URL address in question and a matching URL address should appear. If the URLs do not match, the email is likely to be fraudulent. If they do match, double check for good measure!

Misleading URLs

Don’t be fooled by URLs that appear to be legitimate just because they include all or part of the supposed sender’s name. Although http://www.sparkpost.com is today legitimately associated with the SparkPost brand, http://sparkpost.co.za/1233 is not. Even clicking on a malicious link or opening an attachment from inside your email can put your device at risk of being compromised.

The copy contains mistakes or is awkward

Mistakes in spelling and/or grammar are a common hallmark of illegitimate emails. Why? Most companies place a high value on their marketing presence. Therefore, emails from legitimate sources are usually only sent after several rounds of careful review. In addition to catching any spelling and grammar mistakes, these reviews also ensure that the email adheres to certain brand standards (including but not limited to rules around fonts, images, spelling, capitalization, and voice). These subtleties are often missed by scammers who don’t have the time, concern, or knowledge to get all of these things right.

When it comes to email there is nothing spookier than a phishing attack. We recommend watching out for these 3 signs of phishing so you can spend this October watching horror movies instead of being scared by your own inbox!

 

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