Email marketing is obviously very popular, and you have no doubt been sent a large number of emails since opening your first email address online. Although there are many genuine email marketing campaigns that are sent out on a daily basis from online retailers such as Amazon, there are unfortunately a lot of bogus ones containing potential phishing attacks and harmful data.
Below we look at some email security tips to help protect you online.
1. Setup an anti-virus – Although this may sound like a very simplistic one that you are likely to see on any security checklist, an anti-virus is incredibly important, especially if you are using a desktop email client such as Microsoft Outlook or Thunderbird (online email providers such as Gmail and Hotmail tend to have built-in virus protection software).
2. Be careful when clicking – Once you’ve received an email it can be tempting to click straight through to a website if you see an interesting deal or image – but that’s exactly what you have to be careful of doing. Hover over or copy the link to your clipboard if possible, allowing you the opportunity to examine the destination URL before you proceed.
3. Avoid file downloads – If an email instructs you to download an external file or piece of software to view the full email content, then avoid this immediately. Potentially harmful software can often be distributed to large groups of email addresses in the hope that people install it, and this can have a hugely detrimental effect on your computer and overall online security.
4. Avoid entering details – Some potentially harmful emails will encourage you to enter your personal details (credit card/address) directly into a form embedded into an email – and this should be avoided at all costs. Forms that are embedded into emails are done so for a reason, and that is because the destination in which the information is sent is often hidden.
5. Be wary of forgotten password emails – Unless you know you have specifically requested your password to be reset on a website, you should delete any emails you receive that claim to be resetting your ‘forgotten password’. These types of emails are often looking for you to enter personal details in unsecure locations.
6. If it’s true good to be true, it usually is – If you receive any emails containing promises of fantastic deals that you believe seem too good to be true, then be very wary. Use your favourite search engine to run a quick search to see if anybody else has mentioned the promotion anywhere, and the chances are you will be given an answer one way or another.
7. Avoid clicking online banking links – If you have an online banking account, then it’s very unlikely that you will receive many emails from them, especially ones containing links. Messages claiming to be emailing you from your bank could well be looking to gain access to your accounts, and you should avoid clicking any links within these emails. Visit your online banking account directly.
8. Use an up-to-date web browser – If you are still browsing the web and reading your emails through an extremely dated internet browser such as Internet Explorer 6, then there are a whole manner of potential security risks you face while reading your emails. Use one of the latest browsers such as Firefox or Google Chrome, and avoid installing any suspicious looking toolbars/addons.
9. Ignore unsolicited emails – If you receive an email out of the blue from somebody you have absolutely no connection with, be immediately wary. There is the chance your email address could have been picked up online by a potentially harmful sender, meaning you may receive unsolicited emails relating to various topics. Do not reply, and do not open any containing attachments.
10. Avoid providing any private details – A final but yet hugely important tip is to avoid providing any personal details via email at all costs. Don’t send credit card or PayPal login details to anybody via email no matter what the circumstance, and if you have to provide somebody with a password or piece of secure information, provide this in person or over the phone where possible.
With the above tips in mind, you should be relatively free of potential phishing attacks via email marketing campaigns online. One thing to remember is always be wary – always. There are unfortunately a lot of people who make their money online by scamming others, so it’s important to stay on your toes and report and suspicious activity.
The above guest blog was by UK-based IT support specialist axon IT. Along with helping businesses to protect their computers and networks, axon IT provide cloud computing services to provide flexibility and security for business data.