A Guide to Email Safety

In this guide we aim to give you some simple guidelines to follow when dealing with email.  There are lots of things to look out for but remember if you are unsure at any time, feel free to contact Minerva for assistance. It’s better to be safe, rather than sorry.   

From Address

Think about who the email came from. Do you know the sender? Does the email address look right?  However remember sender addresses can be faked but a careful inspection should help.

Be wary of attachments

Even if you know the person who has sent you an email, do not open an attachment if you were not expecting it. It is better to confirm with the sender that the attachment is legitimate if you have any concerns.  Opening an attachment can infect your machine with a virus.  

Also a standard document will never prompt you with a security warning. If you see this it is more than likely an embedded macro virus so do not enable/click yes to run, close it straight away and check with the sender.

Never open attachments if the extension of the file is either .docm or .xlsm.  If the document extension ends with an m – it contains a macro, and it is likely that it is harmful. Remember if in doubt check with the sender first.

Look out for links to websites

To stay safe, don’t click on links if you are unsure about them. If you hover with your mouse over the link, you will be able to see the full URL address (the website address). If it looks suspicious, don’t click. For example it might point to a totally different website address or be using a variation of a legitimate site name. It’s easy to create a fraudulent web page that looks legitimate and cyber-criminals can install malware simply by you visiting a malicious page. If in doubt, don’t click!

Mistakes in grammar or spelling

If the message you receive is riddled with spelling mistakes, it’s likely that it is scam.

Remember email is not secure

Avoid sending sensitive information over email. Never transit financial, account or any other information that you consider to be private via email.  Your information could easily be read by people other than those intended, for example if your email is forwarded.  

Never enter personal information

When scammers try to trick you into providing personal information, this is called “phishing”. This can be through email or leading you onto a web page pretending to be a legitimate organization, such as a bank. 

Frequently, the scammer will claim you’ve won a prize or threaten you with some action, such as deletion of your account, if you do not respond. As before, don’t click onto URL’s in emails and don’t reply to the email if you are unsure about it.  Contact the organization by telephone to confirm if it is legitimate. Remember, never share bank or credit card information by email.

Watch out for unusual requests for payment

A new scam targeting staff of finance departments has been reported. The scam involves a fraudster sending a genuine looking email supposedly from a senior member of staff, asking for a bill to be paid urgently. If you get an unusual payment request by email, check directly in person or by telephone to confirm the request is genuine.

Non malicious spam

Unsolicited bulk email messages can fill up your mailbox and be extremely annoying. Don’t give out your email address to sites you don’t trust. Many people have an alternative email they use when buying a product from a site or when signing up for a new service.

Don’t post your email address to public places online such as message boards or even your own personal website. Spambots crawl the web looking for these.

Never reply to spam

If you receive a spam email, don’t open it or click “unsubscribe”. Spammers can use these actions to detect your email address is active, and you receive even more spam. Instead mark the message as junk and the sender will be blocked. Emails from this sender will then be sent straight to your junk folder.

Anti-virus software

Make sure that you have anti-virus software installed and keep it up to date!  Anti-virus software will protect your machine from malware. 

We hope that this guide helps. 

Remember you can always contact Minerva for advice if you are unsure at any time.