How to tell if email is spam, a virus or phishing?
A lot of times, we get questions regarding the safety on email. This guide is applicable to people everywhere, not just to our clients in the Toronto/GTA area!
Easiest answer: if it is too good to be true or looks suspicious, don’t open it. No prince in Africa has left you a huge inheritance, nor did you win some mysterious Microsoft lottery!
More detailed answer of things to watch out for:
1. Look for misrepresented URLs/links. With your mouse, hover over (but not click) the link that says, for example www.itsupport.com, and see whether, when the mouse is held over it, it still shows ‘www.itsupport.com’, or now actually displays ‘www.ifooledyou.com’ or something. If these links are different, be suspicious.
2. Look for malicious attachments. Did you get an email from Canadapost or UPS saying you missed a package? Those are most-likely spam/virus delivery system. Not all the time, though. To check, do the test describe in #1. These emails also often contain attachments. They may contain an attachment that is called something like Delivery.PDF.exe (or Delivery.PDF
3. The URL to click, or source of email is misleading. An email from paypalservices .com is bogus (it would have been paypal.com). Also, and email that looks like it came from
4. If the email asks for personal information, never reply to it. If your personal information is needed or needs to be updated, just go to the website directly and do so. Do not fall for the trick described in #3 as per above, for example, and be directed to paypalservices .com or facebookmail .com to fill out those emails. If you think that the email is legitimate, simply open the browser yourself, type in the address of paypal (as an example) yourself, and log in manually. See if anything needs action. If not, it means that the email was bogus.
5. If the email threatens to close your account, have your taxes audited, or the police needing your information by email or some other such odd threat/request, if you don’t respond to the email with various information, this is the same as #4, use the same precautions, as this is most-likely bogus.
This a general guide that allows the basic user to decrease their chances of being harmed by malicious/phishing emails.
Email systems can be compromised, so even someone you know well may have their computer infected (often without their knowledge), and have their email automatically send you an email, which contains a virus (that will attempt to infect your system as well).
Someone who got hold of that person you know may also pretend as if he’s the sender, with the same story.
Nothing basically replaces good I.T. support, a proper antivirus (that also protects your emails), as well as several other solutions that your tech support person can provide, which would harden and drastically-reduce your chances of being infected and having your data compromised.