The onslaught of spam email with malicious links has reached epidemic levels. I’ve never seen it this bad. I hear from clients every day about dangerous email messages. I get 5 or 10 or 20 a day myself.
This is my new suggestion: Assume every message you receive is phony. Then try to talk yourself out of it.
You are connected by email to a global communications system. Just like phone calls, every two-bit piece-of-crap moron anywhere in the world can set up some inexpensive equipment and use it to try to fool you or terrorize you or scam you. There are a lot of two-bit piece-of-crap morons in the world.
They’re lying to you
You have not received a document from Docusign.
There are no undelivered messages in your outbox.
FedEx has not tried to deliver a package.
Your mailbox is not about to be deactivated.
Netflix does not need to confirm your credit card details.
Your mailbox is not full.
Your friend did not send you a link with a note that says “you might be interested in this.”
Office 365 does not think you logged in from a new location.
Someone is not trying to share a file with you on Dropbox or OneDrive.
Microsoft does not need you to verify your subscription.
If you’re careful, you will be safe
Do not click on links in email messages unless you are 100% certain they lead somewhere you want to go.
The malicious messages might look legitimate but the links lead to fake websites that will try to steal your password or credit card number.
Always look at the email address of the sender. If it does not match the company that is supposed to have sent the message, it is likely malicious.
The sender’s address can be spoofed. This isn’t always a reliable giveaway. Frequently, though, the bad guys use a throwaway address that is obviously wrong.
Always hover over a link in an email message before you click on it. Do not click unless it is obviously a legitimate link.
When you hover over a link, a popup will show you where it leads. Don’t click if the link doesn’t match the company that is supposed to have sent the message.
If you get a malware message and you don’t click on a link, it hasn’t hurt your computer. Delete it.
Help your friends and colleagues get educated about the threat
Pass the word. Tell everyone to be careful. Send them this article. Send them the Rules For Computer And Online Safety.
It is a tough time. Don’t be a victim. Be careful out there!