How to be safe when using email
A number of different threats utilise email for their success, including malware, phishing and different types of scams. But to some degree they all work the same way and rely on successfully exploiting the same human weaknesses. These threats work as follows:
- You receive a message that contains an appeal or threat – the message tries to convince you to do something.
- You assess the characteristics of the message, decide that the appeal is legitimate and take the requested action.
- The action – which might be clicking a malicious link, opening a malicious file or sending sensitive information like credit card details – results in a negative consequence for you as the receiver of the message and some kind of illegitimate gain for the sender of the message.
Protect yourself from malicious email – reduce spam
- Don’t share your email address online unless you need to and consider setting up a separate email address just to use for online forms or shopping.
- As much as possible, have separate email accounts for personal and business use.
- Use a spam filter to catch these messages before they get to your inbox. (Most modern email systems have reasonably effective spam filters to prevent spam appearing in your inbox. If you’re not sure, ask your internet service provider.)
- Delete spam messages without opening them.