Keeping e-mail Safe and Secure series
Don’t confuse Phishing, Spam and Viruses
It is easy to confuse which is which but here is the simple definition
Virus: this is usually an attachment to an email or it could be a link to a download or webpage which will infect your computer, these are usually sent from other infected computers so might appear to come from someone you know but usually have odd text asking to click a link or to open an invoice or statement
How to be safe: it is easy to make a mistake so delete it if you are in any doubt, email the known sender in a new email to ask if it is OK because the reply address might be faked and if it is a link to somewhere like Dropbox or OneDrive then type the link in directly to a browser and do not open the link from the email because it might take you to a fake page.
Phishing: This is mail designed to steal your information and is often dressed up as an “account reset” email from an online retailer or a bank. these are very common and easy to get sucked into because the link will take you to a convincing logon page for your online retailer or bank. These messages can be both random and from known senders who themselves are compromised, such as a business contact emailing with a file to download from OneDrive so you get a link which asks for your OneDrive username and password on a fake page and they then steal your information too.
How to be safe: These are convincing and best practice is never open a link from an email to a logon page, not for a shared file from google drive or a bank or anything else, always logon through the browser directly typing the address. We would also recommend CenCom Managed Web Protection which can minimise risk as it blocks most of the pages which are used for fake logons.
Spam: this is the benign cousin of the above which is just unsolicited email trying to entice you to purchase something, they could have got your email from a company have had dealings with who are using your email or who have sold your contact details on, they could be from a webpage you have where a someone has harvested it for spam mailings.
How to be safe: it is difficult to tell the difference between benign spam and the dangerous emails so to avoid confusion keeping your mailbox clear makes it easier to keep these distinct, if you do not want to receive it right click on the mail and choose junk mail and “block sender” this will ensure they are always sent to junk mail. If the sender is one you know and just want to stop receiving they often have an unsubscribe link on the email, use this with caution but if you do “trust” them then you can use this to remove yourself from the mailing list.