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Okay everyone, hands up if you’re sick of spam? hmmm…  that seems to be everyone.  Hands up, if you’re guilty of clicking on ridiculous looking links out of curiosity?  75% of you put your hands up that time.  As I’ve discussed in previous posts, it is difficult to stop all spam.  The SPAMers change tactics by the hour, so some is always going to get through despite our best efforts.  So with that knowledge,  here’s a simple process to making email safer.

These are some fairly reliable (if followed properly) steps to use, to avoid being caught out by malicious SPAM…

Treat all incoming email like a postcard, not an envelope. DON’T OPEN IT until you’re sure it is legit.  If you aren’t sure delete it.  If it is important and legitimate, they will resend or contact you another way.

  1. Use the preview pane in your email client to “preview” the email before opening it.
  2. Set your email client up to not download external content.  This is important.  If you don’t know how, ask your IT people.
  3. Have a look at the sender.  If it seems suspect (bob@dodgyaddress.ru) Just delete it.
  4. Hover over Link in emails.  This is vital.  If the link leads somewhere different than where you expect, DON’T CLICK ON IT!
  5. Don’t open zip files.  Unless you are certain it is sent to you on purpose from a known source.  Just delete all ZIP files.
    1. Actually this goes for DOC, DOCX, or any office files, or PDFs, PNG etc etc.  They can be just as dangerous.
  6. SPAM often has gramatical errors. “You had been summonsed to the court” Seriously, the “court” is not going to email you from Russia.
  7. SPAM often comes from unknown, or unexpected senders.  If you don’t have an AGL account, it’s unlikely they are going help you reduce your bill.  If you do, it will have identifying info in there about your account.  If it doesn’t, delete it.
  8. Don’t subscribe to junk mail.  Please!  If you don’t need it, don’t subscribe to it.
  9. Use the adage, When in doubt, chuck it out!
  10. If you are really curious, but still unsure (you can get medication for that you know, right?) open it on an iPhone.  Not an Android or Windows based phone (i.e. Samsung, HTC, Nokia etc).  There are some nasty exploits around for them at the moment.
    1. Please note that this is not fool proof.  There is currently not too many iPhone exploits, but they will come.  Particularly if you have an old or out of date iOS.
    2. If it opens and seems legit on your iPhone, it is probably okay.
  11. If all else fails and you think you have clicked on a link or opened a ZIP that “didn’t seem to do anything” do the following immediately…
    1. Press and hold the power button on your computer until it turns off.
    2. If you know how, proceed to sandboxing, and disinfecting your PC
    3. If you don’t know how, call your IT people.  Don’t turn it back on until you have.

If you stick to these rules you should have far fewer problems.

Happy emailing!