Do you know the warning signs of a phishing email? Research shows nine in 10 data breaches are attributed to phishing. While hackers use a variety of channels to “phish” for data, email is the most common. By familiarizing yourself with the signs of a phishing email, you can protect your small business’s data from theft.
#1) Not Personalized
Legitimate emails are typically personalized with the recipient’s name, such as “Dear John” or “Dear Susan.” If another business sends you an email, it will probably personalize it with your real name. Phishing emails, on the other hand, typically aren’t personalized. Rather than featuring the recipient’s name, they have a generic opening like “To whom it may concern” or “Dear customer.”
#2) Low-Quality Images
Phishing emails often have low-quality and grainy images. The person, people or organizations behind the phishing attacks don’t care about image quality; they only care about deceiving the victim into providing them with their business’s data. Therefore, phishing emails tend to have low-quality and grainy images.
#3) Suspicious ‘From’ Address
A suspicious “from” address is another telltale sign of a phishing email. All emails have a “from” address — it’s the domain from which the email was sent. Unless the “from” address is a legitimate business’s official website, it’s probably a phishing attempt.
It’s important to note that the “from” address can be spoofed with minimal effort. Therefore, you shouldn’t rely strictly on the “from” address to determine whether an email is legitimate.
#4) Suspicious Links
Most phishing emails contain at least one link to a suspicious, untrustworthy website. Before clicking any links in an email, hover your mouse over them to view the destination. If the links points to a suspicious-looking website, don’t click it. Otherwise, you’ll place yourself at risk for a phishing attack.
#5) File Attachments
You’ll also fine file attachments in phishing emails. The files, of course, are usually malware that, when downloaded, infect the victim’s computer. The malware is then used to steal the victim’s data. Always use caution when both clicking links and downloading file attachments in emails. Unbeknownst to many business owners, file attachments and links are often used for phishing.
#6) Sense of Urgency
Finally, phishing emails often have a sense of urgency. For example, a phishing email may tell the victim that he or she has 24 hours to “verify” their account. Upon discovering this message, the victim may abruptly click the link and enter their username and password.