How to detect a spam/virus email
  • By Dom Haughton

    IT Manager

Spam email is something which we all receive, most days, and can’t really avoid or stop it. Determining what is and isn’t spam is sometimes difficult, so I’ve put together a very simple guide to help the non-spam spotters amongst you. Below explains what you can look at to make sure that you don’t interact with an email which isn’t legitimate.

spam mail
  1.  Name – Do you know this person?
  2.  Email Address – Is the email address the same as the person who is sending the mail?
  3.  Email Body – Does it make sense? Not everybody can write well, but this makes no sense.
  4.  Clickable Link/Attachment – It’s asking you to click a link, if an unsolicited email is asking you to click a link or download a file that you’re not expecting then it’s likely a spam/virus email.

If you hover over a link it will pop up and show you the target – does this look legitimate to you? The below example is linking to what looks like a Russian site about Dieting and doesn’t reference the email anywhere.

spammy email

You could receive an email from Joe Bloggs <alan.smith@awewpdnqwdqwd.cn> saying you owe him £1000. He’s attached an invoice for you to view and a “secure” link to pay the bill.

My thought process is as follows:

  1.  You can see that the name doesn’t match the email address which the email came from – Red Flag (Usually Joe Blogs would have his name in his business email, right? Question why Joe is sending from Alan’s address – sketchy.)
  2.  The domain ends in something unfamiliar (.cn, .cz, .xyz). Should you be receiving an email from China? No. – Red Flag (If you’re dealing with somebody from China you’ll know their email address and it won’t be a random email)
  3.  Do you owe somebody called Joe Bloggs £1000? – Probably not – Red Flag (By this point, you should know that this email is spam.)
  4.  It has a file attachment – Red Flag (Are you expecting a file from somebody called Joe Bloggs? Is it an invoice for £1000? If not, why open it? – Curiosity killed the Computer).
  5.  It has a link to pay Joe – Red Flag (Again, you don’t owe Joe any money so why would you click the link to pay him?)

If you are unsure about whether an its a spam email or not. Take a screen shot and send it to your IT department, its always better to be safe rather than sorry.

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