According to an analysis by America-based cyber security firm FireEye, less than 33% of emails are “clean”. After analysing over 500 million emails, FireEye found that 1% of emails are usually malicious – specifically designed to trick people to download scam software or surrender personal details. FireEye also found the scale of the email problem to be worse now compared to the previous year where 0.76% of emails were sent maliciously. The analysis involved hundreds of millions of emails sent during the 1st half of 2018.
According to Tony Neate of website security advice site GetSafeOnline, the number of malicious emails is way higher than the 1% once spam emails are included. According to Neate, you must check every single email you get carefully before opening. Emails containing attachments and links are the riskiest according to the analysis, and such emails are usually sent on Mondays and Wednesdays. Impersonation emails tend to be sent on Fridays.
Email attacks have become very sophisticated. Here’s how to spot an email attack and safeguard your personal information and finances. Bogus emails that appear to originate from renowned brands
Scammers are in a constant search for ways to bypass email security systems and trick people. As a result, it’s very common for bogus emails to resemble renowned brands in many ways including the use of similar but fake company logos and email addresses. This is known as imitation attacks or spoofing.
According to Katy Worobec, MD of Economic Crime at UK Finance, scammers use phishing emails to trick people into submitting personal information. Imitation attacks are usually sophisticated and tend to use major online retailer brands, utility and internet company brands that a majority of people use.
Although imitation attacks don’t always contain harmful attachments or links, they tend to invite recipients to submit personal information or transfer money. Alternatively, they may contain links to harmful websites which are presented as legitimate (belonging to well-known brands). Users are then asked to submit sensitive information and passwords which are stolen by criminals. The information is then used to access bank accounts or sold to other cybercriminals.
Phishing emails tend to contain deliberate mistakes like typos to filter out cynical customers and target those who are most likely to fall for online scams. Phishing emails have been around for years, yet people still fall for them. Experts blame people’s busy lifestyles nowadays and the fact that scammers are clever. Consumers get a lot of emails from their brands on a daily basis, and most don’t have the time to assess the authenticity of every single email.
What’s more – fraudsters are trading phishing websites made to resemble familiar brands like Facebook, Netflix, and Apple for as low as £2 on the dark web. This is according to Simon Migliano, head of research at www.Top10VPN.com, a site that tracks buying/selling of hacking tools on the dark web. Scammers use attention-grabbing emails such as raising a problem with your a/c or sending links to catchy celebrity stories.
What should you do if you ever fall for online scams?
If you fall for an email scam, protect your money as soon as possible. Neate recommends scam victims to get in touch with their bank, credit card provider or any other applicable institution immediately. If you find you have given up sensitive personal information, clicked on potentially harmful links or downloaded harmful software in your computer or mobile phone, call your bank immediately for advice on the next cause of action.
It’s also advisable to change passwords of the affected accounts immediately. Neate insists on taking an added step, i.e., reporting the matter to the police. Scammers are criminals who should be reported while they are in progress for swift action to be taken.
Once you safeguard your money, protect your devices. You can do this using the latest anti-malware software. Installing anti-malware and scanning your device is recommendable; however, you should go a step further and have experts inspect your device. There are many companies which check computers and mobile phones for suspicious software. KnowHow is a good example. The company offers device checks for a small fee.
For more advise on staying safe online, visit www.takefive-stopfraud.org.uk or www.getsafeonline.org. If you are a victim of online fraud, visit www.actionfraud.police.uk or call 0300 123 2040 to report your case.
Is the Company Director of Swift Money Limited.
He oversees all day to day operations of the company and actively participates in providing information regarding the payday/short term loan industry.