Safe email practices-part one

by Ken May-Swift Chip

Why? Unsafe computing can corrupt your files, expose the contents of your internal drive to strangers, cause other computers to become compromised, and even allow your computer to be used by spammers to send millions of unsolicited emails.

Using safe email practices helps you:
Protect your inbox
Protect your computer
Protect your privacy
Protect your friends and neighbors

Here are recommendations you should follow to protect yourself when using email.

1.Screen messages before viewing them, and delete anything that appears suspicious. Carefully examine your list of unopened messages.

Do any of them come from people or addresses you don’t recognize? Do the subject lines have words with too many spaces, or long random numbers? Do they seem too good to be true, or somehow odd? If so, it’s probably best to just delete the message along with any attachments.

Wait! Don’t open that email yet…

If a message has attachments don’t open it unless you know the sender and are expecting the attachment. If you’re not sure what it is, contact the sender before opening the message and ask exactly what the message and attachment is.

Don’t be fooled by Dirty Tricks.

Most computer worms (a kind of malicious program) spread themselves via email by spoofing addresses found in the infected computer’s address book and sending copies of itself to other addresses in the address book, so it’s very likely that an infected message can appear to come from someone you know. Many of these messages will use vague or generic subject lines like “Re:     ” or “Hi.” Others will try to look like they come from a technical support service, or even from Microsoft. Be careful about opening these.

Always confirm a Wire Transfer.

An extremely common attack we are seeing is for an email to come in that appears to be from a user in the company. If the email address matches exactly, this is called “spoofing.” Also check to see if the domain name is slightly off. For instance, instead of “gmail.com” it says “gmaii.com.” These emails often request a wire transfer, and are targeting accountants and CFOs. Please verify with the person directly.

2. Open your messages, but beware the Next and Previous buttons.

Using the Next and Previous buttons to open and move from message to message is convenient but dangerous, especially if you don’t screen messages thoroughly, or if new messages come in while you’re reading other screened messages.

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