Caution: Email

Apr 7, 2016 | Blog

Email addresses are a lot like opinions – it seems like everybody has at least one. Since email is so common, it’s also become a common way for unscrupulous people to try to make some easy money. As a result, we now have to be extra-vigilant when checking and responding to our email messages.

Here are a few examples of the sneaky ways the bad guys use email to trick you into giving them money, or installing malicious software on your computer, or both.

A client of ours recently received an email full of all-caps and exclamation points, conveying with urgency that the client’s website would be expiring soon unless money was paid. Here’s an excerpt:

“This important expiration notification proposal notifies you about the expiration notice of your domain registration for (www.clientwebsite.com) search engine optimization submission. The information in this expiration notification proposal may contain confidential and/or legally privileged information from the notification processing department to purchase our search engine traffic generator. We do not register or renew domain names. We are selling traffic generator software tools. This information is intended only for the use of the individual(s) named above.”

Scary stuff, huh? Who wants their domain to expire? No one. It’s easy to get worked up and quickly throw money at the problem, but let’s take a closer look:

“…the expiration notice of your domain registration for (www.clientwebsite.com) search engine optimization submission.”

Expiration notice of WHAT? Once we parse that awkward sentence, we see these folks are trying to make a big deal about the domain’s registration FOR SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMIZATION SUBMISSION. So it has nothing to do with your possession/registration of your domain name, but everything to do with someone tricking you into buying “traffic generator software tools” that may (or may not) help your search engine traffic. By surrounding the important text with a bunch of irrelevant but legal-sounding stuff, these jerks are hoping you DON’T see the part about “We do not register or renew domain names”. So, technically, they’ve told you they don’t actually do registration – but they really seem to be trying to fool you into thinking they do actually do registration. That’s a bunch of doo-doo.

Is it illegal? Technically, no. Is it as shady as the old elm back on the farm? Metaphorically, yes!

Another way the crooks try to fool email users is by making the email they send look as official and/or personalized as possible. Some are sophisticated enough that they can plug in your mailing address to look legitimate, like this one mentioned on BBC News: bbc.com/news/technology-35977227

Sneaky stuff – what can you do? First, be careful when opening email from someone you don’t know. Second, be wary of clicking on links or calling phone numbers in emails from someone you don’t know. By “be wary” we mean, “don’t”. Third, don’t give anyone financial (or any other additional) information unless you know for sure where the email came from and is going to.

ZBx Technology can help your organization stay safe and secure from shady email practices. If you DO get a virus, malware, or think something phishy is going on, ZBx Technology can provide triage services and ongoing maintenance.  Call us at 616-594-7100 or email sales@zbxtech.com

tl;dr – Email can be risky, but ZBx Technology can help you stay safe.

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