Internet habitués should always take into account their privacy and security whenever they go online. Criminals out to make some money have made a business out of everyone’s online proclivities. Underhanded schemes that take advantage of popular online resources are especially rampant. Emails, in particular, are favored by crooks for their inherent simplicity.
Malicious emails come in many forms. Simple, seemingly benign messages that carry nasty surprises are widespread. Emails that serve as tickets to convoluted ploys are also common. In most cases, all the user has to do is open the offending email to get himself into trouble.
Everyone who uses email is susceptible to these attacks. No one is safe. Fortunately, email users can take steps to protect themselves from these malicious online messages.
Email Privacy Essentials
Information is a tradable commodity, and personal details are worth their weight in gold. Thus, enterprising criminals continuously devise schemes that target personal information. Browsing habits, credit history, even someone’s opinion on a product–everything is fair game. If it’s personal, online crooks want their hands on it.
Because no one can tell where the next attack will come from, email users should avoid giving out their email addresses here and there. Just as no one would hand over his phone number to a complete stranger, no user should give away his email address to every person or website that asks for it. Indiscriminate email submission only opens up users to spam and all sorts of malicious messages.
As much as possible, users should also avoid sending sensitive personal information via email. Everyone must remember that no online resource is foolproof. Email services are generally reliable, but emails can still end up in the wrong inbox. If it’s really needed, everyone should only send what’s necessary. Checking the recipient’s address before sending off a critical email is also a good idea.
Finally, everyone should watch out for emails that ask users to fill up online forms. Criminals use all sorts of fake forms to get users to give away their personal details. Aside from phony bank sheets and government documents, online crooks also use contest forms from nonexistent promotions to trick everyone. Email users should confirm the message first (via a phone call or a quick online check) before typing on the blanks.
Email users should always use caution when handling online messages. Criminals often employ emails to trick users into downloading malicious software. In fact, many computer infections had their start in emails.
Spotting malicious emails is not easy. Nonetheless, everyone can watch out for certain types of messages. Unexpected, anonymous emails should be avoided, for example. Emails with unclear or missing titles should also be ignored. Likewise, messages that guarantee an absurd amount of cash should be disregarded. Curiosity may get the better of everyone once in a while, but email users should always remember that an exploratory click may result to a virus infection.
No one should also take email attachments lightly. Email attachments sometimes carry software that cripple or take control of computers. To be safe, email users should steer clear of most attachments. Everyone should only open attachments from trusted sources.
Lastly, email users should think twice before using hyperlinks. Like attachments, hyperlinks in emails sometimes lead to trouble. What looks like a link to an interesting resource may redirect users to an online scam, for example. Everyone should also be wary of abbreviated hyperlinks as well as links with executable extensions.
These threats will never really go away. Criminals will not stop exploiting emails. Nonetheless, everyone should not leave everything to chance. Email users should take steps to shield themselves from these dangers. As shown above, a pinch of precaution goes a long way in protecting everyone from the best laid schemes of malicious individuals.