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Phishing emails are on the rise, and spotting them is not an easy task.

Phishing emails and staying safe

With the rise in our use of technology, digital marketing, and other modern forms of communication, it’s not surprising that hackers and scammers are adjusting their approach to targeting their victims.

As a digital marketing agency, we are aware of the challenges digital marketers face when using email marketing, social media, and when browsing websites.

Top Tip: Received an invoice from a company you’ve never done business with? Always call the company to check the invoice is legitimate before processing payment.

To help you combat the threats, we’ve put together a handy guide that will help you to stay safe online.

Spotting a Phishing Email

Firstly, answer these simple questions: –

  1. Are you expecting the email? This is no doubt one of the most difficult questions to answer, as you won’t exactly know until you open and read it, but be mindful of the sender, the subject line, and links/attachments.
  2. Is the email appropriate to you? For example, you’re a marketing executive, and you receive an invoice in an email. Chances are you wouldn’t receive an invoice, so don’t open it.
  3. Do you know who sent you the email? Look closely at the name and email address for any typos or purposely misspelt domains thatmake it appear at first glance to be a legitimate email address. Be cautious of Gmail and Yahoo! email addresses that can be setup by anyone.
  4. Does the email sound genuine? Look for the tone of voice, and be mindful of any pushy or forceful content that is trying to get you to click the link or attachment.

Checking Links in Emails

If you are using a desktop PC, you can check a link without clicking it. Hover your cursor over the link to display the actual link destination. This will reveal where the link is going to take you, so look out for suspicious addresses that don’t look right. If you’re on a mobile device, Google search the link rather than clicking it – chances are Google (and other search engines) will flag up any red indicators in the search results, as covered in our previous blog post ‘Is my website hacked?’

Attachments

Don’t open attachments that you are not expecting. Be wary of PDFs, XLS, .doc and .zip files. Opening a file just once can trigger a chain of events without you even realising it, such as installing malware on your PC/device.

Top Tip: Received an invoice from a company you do business with but the bank details have changed? Always call the company to check the invoice and details are legitimate before processing the payment as it could be a spear phishing attack.

Web Browsing

Be mindful that some websites are purposely built to serve malware to their visitors. If you receive a link in an email and are not sure where it will take you, Google search the link or domain to see the search results. Usually, Google will warn you if the site may have been compromised.

Encryption

Websites should now be HTTPS (Hyper Text Transfer Protocol Secure), such as https://www.impactdigital.marketing, to better protect their users.  HTTPS shows that the site is encrypted, and indicates a padlock in the browser address bar similar to when you do online banking or online purchasing.

As a marketer this is important for you, as Google now prioritises secure content over non-secure content in a bid to protect users. Read our previous blog post for more information on this.

Taking Action

It’s important that you recognise the steps you should take if you believe that you’re a victim of cybercrime.

  1. Alert your internal teams, and usually the IT department, so that they can investigate and analyse your devices.
  2. Do not click, open, or forward the email or attachments, as you’ll more than likely spread the virus/malware.
  3. Have your PC/device checked for viruses or malware.
  4. Change your login and password details to safeguard your accounts.

 Reporting a Crime

To report a scam such as fraud, identity theft etc., you can do so online via the Action Fraud website.

Ryan Sedgwick
Managing Director & Marketing Consultant at Impact Digital Markeitng
A Chartered Marketer, Ryan has gained extensive B2B and B2C marketing experience working across a broad spectrum of industries. Having graduated with a Masters in Marketing Communications from the University of Huddersfield, Ryan successfully utilises his skills and knowledge to effectively support businesses in getting the most from their marketing investments.