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Email Security Best Practice – How to Stay Safe Online

While it might be the age of social media, people still use email to communicate. As a consequence, this means that you are still in a position to get hacked or trapped into opening a door to get hacked, scammed or have some nefarious program, aka malware, installed on your computer.

Email security threats continue to be among the biggest risks to businesses worldwide and more than 90% of hacking attacks begin with some kind of email phishing or spoofing attack which includes the very nasty ransomware and CEO fraud. Global ransomware damage costs are predicted to exceed US$5 Billion in 2017.

Last year Ginni Rometty, IBM’s chairman, president and CEO said: “Cyber-crime is the greatest threat to every company in the world”. The cost of an email security threat cannot only be enormous when sensitive customer information or financial data is breached, but it also ends up in reduced customer confidence, damage to your company’s reputation and ultimately, loss of business.

Email Security Best Practice

Beware of attachments – The first rule of email security is to never click or open an attachment on an email where you don’t recognise or know the sender. Any email attachments that end in “htm or HTML” are pretty much guaranteed to be dodgy, so immediately bin any emails containing those to be safe. If an email comes from an apparently legitimate source but you feel unsure about it, rather contact the sender and enquire about any attachments they may have sent.

Watch the wording – Take note of the wording of an email. Generally, if it is written in bad English, has horrible grammar and is mostly nonsensical in parts, it is often a scam hoping to convince you to interact in a way that will result in your being hacked. Hackers are getting more sophisticated regarding this now, so make sure to look out for other signs too.

Beware of Phishing – Pronounced ‘fishing’, this is an email scam and weapon of choice of identity thieves and businesses are 6.2 times more likely than personal accounts to receive phishing emails. Most phishing emails pretend to be from a banking or financial institution and are cloned to look authentic. The email will cleverly attempt to con you into a state of panic and lead you to a malicious website to get you to enter your username and password in some manner. The minute you do this, they have your details and can take your finances for a wild ride. Even just clicking on the link can infect your computer with data stealing malware.

It is important to remember that banking institutions especially, will never ask you for such sensitive information or to click a link to your login over an email. If ever in doubt, rather phone the bank on a number you know to be legitimate to make enquiries.

Avoid keylogging – If you access your email from a computer that is not your own, that can be risky. Keylogger software could be installed on that computer without your knowledge. Every keystroke you make is captured by the software and gives a hacker access to your otherwise protected information.

Filter your Spam – This scourge against email security around the world can make up as much as 95% of all email on the internet. Spammers get email addresses from newsgroups, malware that harvests emails from hacked accounts and from unscrupulous website operators. Besides causing congestion in your network, a large portion of spam contains malware or links to websites that contain malware.

A good protection against spam is a spam filter. Both the corporate variety as well as filters on your Gmail inbox are relatively strong and most of us don’t ever see emails we didn’t sign up for, but as added protection, it’s a good idea to use any junk mail filtering options available in your email software.

The development of Snowshoe spam, which sends spam from thousands of users in low volumes is harder for anti-spam software to keep up with and is often tied to legitimate bulk email addresses that come from sources that you legitimately signed up for.

Whatever you do, never ever unsubscribe or reply to suspected or obvious spam emails because this confirms to the spammers that your email address is real. If however, you have legitimately subscribed to an email newsletter for example, and no longer want to receive it, those are mostly safe to unsubscribe from.

Encrypt your Emails – Emails travelling over the internet can sometimes be accessed by a Man-in- the-Middle (MITM). To prevent this, it is safer to encrypt sensitive emails so that the content and attachments can only be read by the intended recipients.

Let the Mailmech experts provide you with secure online protection and email security for your business email. If you would like to know more, call them for advice and recommendations on 011-789 1608 or visit www.mailmech.co.za

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