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Businesses have been relying on their emails more than ever these past few months, and whilst the majority of the email communications we receive is authentic, there are some that pose as genuine emails, when they’re not. Scammers and hackers use emails and attach things such as viruses and spyware to computers to obtain personal information to gain money out of those they have targeted.

These emails used to be easy to spot, but as we have become savvier to disingenuous emails, so have the people who send them, and they are becoming more sophisticated. However, there are still some obvious signs that will tell you if an email is a threat to your businesses’ online security or not.

Check the senders email address

This is usually this biggest giveaway. Whilst the senders name may look like someone you know or a business you have heard of, the email address probably won’t be. Often, they either contain lots of numbers, or they will have an extension somewhere in the email, such as [email protected] (Note, Google’s email address will end with their domain name – ONLY.)

Spelling mistakes and grammatical errors

Carefully read the email in question and ask yourself does it make grammatical sense? And are there any spelling mistakes? Often these emails are translated into multiple languages on mass, so errors like this are a good sign that this may not be a genuine email.

Check where the link is going

If there is a link in the email, check where the link is going BEFORE you click on it. If you hover your mouse over the link, a small box will appear to tell you exactly where that link is going. If it doesn’t look familiar, it’s probably a scam. However, the best practice is to go direct to the website yourself if you’re unsure.

Don’t open attachments

If you’re not sure of an email, do NOT open the attachment. End of.

Are you expecting the email?

If an email has landed in your inbox unexpectedly asking you to click on a link or open an attachment, that’s usually a red flag. Often scammers will send out an email from big companies, such as a banks, utilities company, mobile phone network or even HMRC etc. and scare you into clicking on links or open attachments because you “owe them money” or your “account has been compromised.” If this doesn’t sound right to you, don’t do it.

Get the email checked out

If you have received a suspicious email, you can forward your email to “Virus Total” and it will tell you whether the link or the attachment in your email is a known virus or not. Please note, new viruses may not be picked up using this service.

If you’re still unsure of an email, the best thing to do would be contact the person or organisation who it appears to have come from and ask them if they have sent the email. They will be able to confirm if the email is genuine or not.