Everyone gets their fair share of spam—some more than others. More than ever, spam emails have become a vehicle for phishing scams and malware spread. We hear about them often in the news and read them on social media. But, no matter how we seem to know more about them, people still often fall victim.
About 85% of all emails we receive every day are spam. While some are easy to recognize, report, and trash out, what about the more dangerous types of spam? These are often disguised as legitimate emails trying to scam you out of money or sensitive information. In this article, we have listed some ways to identify spam and save yourself or your business from a data breach.
What is a Spam Email?
The advent of technology that GodoPDF has made file sharing possible and convenient. It has allowed us to send and distribute messages and documents in a matter of seconds, and communicate with our network even in remote locations. However, spam is an unfortunate by-product of this convenience. The ease of file sharing has also made it easier to spread malicious messages which can compromise your personal information if you’re not careful.
In a nutshell, spam is an unwanted email. As email filters become more stringent, spam becomes more inventive at trying to get sensitive information out of you, too. Therefore, it is wise to treat your email with caution.
How to Identify Malicious Emails
1. Suspicious Address
Spam emails usually don’t have a standard address, often using combinations of numbers, letters, and symbols. However, keep in mind that cyber criminals these days are smarter and may use names and addresses that appear legitimate.
In this case, check the name of the sender and the domain name of the company. Make sure no alterations such as additional numbers and unnecessary symbols or letters have been added. An example of an altered email looks like this: [email protected] vs [email protected].
2. Grammar and Spelling Errors
Is the email an eyesore with grammar and spelling errors? In some cases, spammers write in a way to get their email past spam filters. They intentionally make errors to avoid detection while keeping them subtle to make you believe that it’s a legitimate message.
Always check for spelling mistakes. These can be as simple as writing Paypal instead of PayPal or errors that look like someone used a translation service to translate the mail to a language that you understand.
3. Sense of Urgency in Emails
Spam emails often tell a story that creates a sense of fear or urgency and tricks you into opening an attachment, clicking on a link, or providing sensitive information. If the subject or content of the email has similar phrases like the following, be skeptical:
- Only a few hours to get the 90% discount offer
- We have noticed some suspicious activity or log-in attempts
- There’s a problem with your payment information
- Click on the link to update your account
4. Fake Attachments
Spams usually contain links and/or attachments that will redirect you to fake web pages, requiring you to provide sensitive information like credit card details, etc. Attachments may also be dressed as catalogs and exclusive offers that promise to deliver great returns for a small investment.
If these offers are too good to be true, then they probably are. In these cases, it’s better not to click on a link or attachment that you’re not expecting. The likelihood of it being a malicious email is high.
5. Generic Salutations
Is your name spelled out in the email or are you being greeted with generic salutations like “Dear valued member”? A legitimate email is most likely to call you by name and probably direct you to contact them via their hotline. This much is true if the email is from a company you have already dealt with and provided with required personal information in the past.
How to Protect Yourself From Spam Emails
As scammers become smarter, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to identify a fake email. But, while it’s the case, a keen eye would still be able to detect subtle hints of their malicious nature. There are a few key points to keep in mind when trying to detect and avoid spam emails:
- A legitimate email will never ask for sensitive information
- It will generally address you by name
- It will have a legitimate domain email address
- It will not force you to open an attachment or click on a link
- It will not have lucrative offers
- It will not contain grammar or spelling errors
Each point above is a red flag by itself, even if the rest of the elements look legitimate. Over the past few years, spam authors have become smarter and more creative to pass spam filters. So when all else checks out, trust your gut if it tells you that something is off.
Do you have any other tips to add to the list? Let us know by leaving a comment below.