One of the most common, and easiest, ways of letting a virus into your computer is through clicking on a dodgy link in an email. Unfortunately, these emails are getting more sophisticated and even with a good anti-virus if you click the link and click “allow” you could be in trouble.
So how can you tell if it is a malicious email or genuine?
5 Ways To Identify Malicious Emails
Check The Address: Sometimes it can be tricky to spot the senders address, and the scammers will be banking on you not looking very closely. We had an email recently from HMRC – except it wasn’t. If you look closely at the address you will notice it is not from a genuine HMRC address.
If you do need to get in touch with HMRC the actual web address is https://www.gov.uk/contact-hmrc which is significantly different from the contact address above.
Check Who Is Named: Do you usually get addressed as “Dear Customer” or “To Mr Sir”? Or is there no reference to a name at all? A lot of malicious emails are sent in the hope of being opened and generic names are often a sign of a dodgy email. It is also worth checking how they sign off – is this different to what you would usually expect?
Check The Link Address: Do NOT click on the link, but hover your mouse over it to see where it would have taken you. The example below, again purportedly a tax refund from HMRC, shows the link is going somewhere very peculiar, nothing at all to do with the rest of the email.
Now maybe there is a Bobby Guyen who works for the HMRC but closer inspection of this link says that HMRC is just an additional page on Mr Guyen's website and we have no desire to go visit him and download what he has to offer thank you very much.
Check Yourself: There have been a lot of malicious emails circulating recently that tell you that you have to click on the link because your parcel has been dispatched, or delivery failed and need to act now. Below is an email we received that has used our registered work address, which is easily accessible on the internet.
If you have ordered something you can be easily fooled, so go though all the other check points as above, as with here us hovering over the link address – and if in doubt, contact the company in question but not by replying to the email!
Some of these scams are ever so clever and the tips above are no guarantee that you won’t get conned, but it is always worth taking two minutes to think and check before you click. And if your antivirus is one of the better versions available and it asks if you are sure you want to click that link it’s probably best not to.