News & Insights

 
Opinion25th March 2015

5 email and internet security tips everyone should know

Email and Internet security is a topic that we all know we should be up to speed on, but it often takes a back seat in our minds. This is especially true at work, where we often assume that higher standards of security mean we are better protected. While there will certainly be more robust security measures in place threats can slip through, often due to mistakes we have unwittingly made ourselves. By being better informed on the types of commonplace threats we can be proactive in avoidance of security breaches.

1. Beware of phishing scams.

‘Phishing’ is the act of sending an email to a user falsely claiming to be a legitimate business. These malicious users attempt to scam you into surrendering private information that will be used for identity theft. For example, you may have recently seen a rise in these types of emails from scammers masquerading as a number of Irish banking institutions such as Bank of Ireland, TSB and AIB. They will usually say that they are having trouble with your account, and want you to verify your details using personal information. Banks will never ask for personal information over email, so If you do receive an email that fits this description or similar delete it immediately. You may also receive emails that look like they came from LinkedIn, Facebook, Amazon or similar – again treat them with extreme caution.

Phishing

Side note: Something that we have come across lately is an email with the title ‘Employee Document – Internal use’ or similar. The email will have information with a link to a document. Sometimes the emails even reference a colleague in your organisation. If you click on the link it then sends the same message to everyone in your address book. This is a form of malware and is designed to slow performance. If you receive something like this delete it immediately.

2. Don’t open unsolicited attachments.

Always use caution when opening files and attachments that come from someone you don’t know. If you are expecting something then go ahead but for anything unsolicited or unfamiliar it’s best not to open it, especially when you are in an office environment as it could affect your whole network. You don’t want to be ‘that guy’ who compromised the network, do you? The smartest thing to do if you are unsure about an attachment is to give your IT Department a quick call. Don’t think you are bothering them, they will be happy to assist. They would much rather take a quick look before you click on it rather than after, when you have potentially taken the network down!

Spam email avoidance tips

3. Avoid clicking on unknown links in emails.

Just as you should be wary of opening attachments from unknown senders, the same caution should be applied to unknown links in emails. While your spam filter may be able to catch most of them, a couple are bound to slip through. If you’re not expecting it and it looks suspicious delete it. Don’t give them the chance to steal your details.

Phishing Attacks

4. Don’t download and install unauthorized software.

Downloading programs other than those installed by your IT Department or administrator can introduce various levels of vulnerability to a business. Many system threats are disguised as programs that are free to download on the web. If you need to download something the safest thing to do is run it by your IT Department first. Business owners – you can also request that your IT Department put measures in place so that users do not have the ability to install additional programs in the first place.

Unauthorised Software

5. Scan for viruses and malware.

Ok, so you opened that suspicious email. While your computer didn’t self-combust you’re still worried that something fishy is going on. If in any doubt ring your IT Department or quickly run a scan for virus and malware. Again, if you are unsure how to run a scan your IT Department will be happy to show you how, or do it for you. It’s better to be safe than sorry.

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Always speak up if you see something odd. Whether it’s on your computer, on the network or online, give your IT Department a quick call or tell your manager so they can investigate or escalate it. These days, the reality is we are always only a click away from a malicious attack. Being more security conscious means you will be able to spot the warning signs, and take preventative measures.