These days it’s not a matter of if you will get phished through email but a matter of when. This is not the normal doom and gloom reminder but a simple request. Slow down, just a bit. When that email arrives asking you to transfer $60,000 to an account in Belize for a summer home purchase, sit back, sip some water and ask yourself, why is the CEO of the company asking me, the marketing manager to setup a wire transfer?
This is what I see almost every day. Emails beginning with “My Dearest” or “So Kindly” (with many variations on spelling) litter the phishing world to the point that any email starting like that should just be deleted to begin with.
There are simple steps to take to eliminate being tricked (phished) through email.
- Does the return address make sense or even belong to you?
- Anyone can fake a sending address but the return is where they want to get you. You make think the email is from firstname.lastname@example.org but on replying you will see email@example.com or some other variant. If the reply-to domain is different than yours or to an address you’ve never used, delete the message and pick up the phone.
- Does the email have links to click?
- Almost all email programs can show HTML which means I can do this (pseudo-html ahead) Good Link – you will see “Good Link” in the email but be directed to bogus link when you click. How you can avoid that? Put your mouse over the link and wait a second. Email programs will show you the real link under the HTML link so when you see Click Here to access your account, a mouse over will show http://bad-domain.com as the destination and a good indication that clicking on it is a bad idea.
- Make a phone call.
- This one is staggeringly simple yet, it’s number three in the list. Every case of phishing I have investigated would have been prevented if you had just picked up the phone and confirmed. This should be number one in your list so in your mind, move it up to the top spot.
So that’s it in a nutshell. Check the return domain, moue over any links and pick up the phone and phishing will be a thing of the past.