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Simple Ways to Detect Phishing Emails

Phishing emails are one of the most common ways hackers gain access to your computer and your data.

  • Emails with poor grammer and spelling are generally phishing emails because frequently they are created by non-English speaking hackers
  • Emails that offer large financial rewards or emails that tell you that dire consequences will occur if you do not respond by a given date are generally phishing emails
  • Emails from the WHO, IRS, UN or other large governmental institutions are generally phishing emails. These organizations generally communicate over their web sites not via emails
  • Emails that ask you to enter your user name or password are frequently phishing emails. Legitimate companies will generally ask you to go to their web site and enter your credentials
  • Emails from banks or financial institutions requesting you reply to an email are generally phishing emails. Most legitimate financial institutions today will ask you to go their web site to receive any communication from them
  • If you get an email with an attachment, it is a good idea to validate the email or, at least, use antivirus to scan the file.
  • Legitimate companies will not send you to their web site. If you get an email that is sending you to their web site, it is likely a phishing email
  • Emails with very general greetings such as "Dear Valued Customer" are frequently phishing emails
  • More advanced steps can be taken but you have to balance the inconvenience factor with the risk factor when considering these rules as they can be somewhat restrictive.

    • Check the sender's email address. If it is from an address very similar to major company but not the same. It is generally phishing emails. For example, an email from joesmith@paypay56.com is probably a phishing email.
    • Emails from colleagues uncommonly asking you for confidential files can be a phishing email. It is common for hackers to impersonate people's names to obtain sensitive information. We recommend that you have a common secure location for the exchange of files. If that is not possible, we recommend you validate the request in some fashion before sending the files
    • Emails with pop-ups requesting personal information are generally phishing emails
    • Install some form of Malware software such as Malwarebytes or Norton Antivirus Deluxe 360
    • Check that the link in the email is not directing you to a suspicious link. You can do this by hovering over the link and looking in the bottom left hand side of your screen. The image below shows the actual link in the bottom left hand side of the screen is quite different from what you would expect. This is especially true if the URL it is sending you to is something other than a .com, .net or .org address.