There are many different types of dangerous malware that can adversely affect a computer. A malware is any type of software that is hostile or intrusive. Some of the most intrusive types can steal personal information and/or login credentials that can be used to steal credit information or result in identity theft. Computer viruses, adware, worms, trojan horses, and spyware are all types of malware.
One of the most common ways in which malware is typically distributed is through email. Oftentimes these emails will look perfectly legitimate and be disguised to appear as though they are from personal friends, representatives from a business you are familiar with, or potential new business clients. The content in these emails will generally ask the user to download a document or visit a website that requires login credentials. If the document is downloaded, an attached virus is usually contained within. In the case of an external site, the user's credentials will then be forwarded for malicious purposes once entered.
So, how can you learn to tell the difference between these dangerous emails and authentic emails? Here are two tips to avoid malware that is commonly sent through email:
Ignore Any Attachments
The simplest way to prevent downloading a dangerous attachment is to not download any attachments that are contained within unfamiliar emails. Even if the email claims it's from a company you recognize or a potential business client, it's best to ignore any attachments. If the email claims it's from someone you know, verify that they did before downloading anything. Virus removal software should also be used to check the attachment.
Also, if the email contains language that doesn't make sense or contains multiple grammar issues, those are red flags that the email isn't as legitimate as it looks. If it contains an offer that seems too good to be true, that's another red flag. As the saying goes, if something looks too good to be true, it usually is.
Check all URLs
You also need to make sure that all URLs and links contained within emails are thoroughly checked before you click on them and/or visit the site in question. Look at the link. If it contains extraneous words or gibberish, that URL is usually not what it claims to be. For example, a real bank's URL might end in "nwbank.com". If an URL claiming to be from that bank instead reads "nwbankcorresponds.com" or nwbank.555.com", it's best to ignore those URLs completely. They will most likely direct you to a non-legitimate site. If in doubt, type the name of the company (in the example's case it would be "nwbank") into a search engine and locate the official site for that company. That official site URL is the only URL you should trust.
Follow the above tips to stay as safe as possible when checking your email. If you own a business, it's not a bad idea to utilize software that automatically blocks any emails which contain strange attachments or that contain unfamiliar URLs. This can protect all of your employees as well as the company. When it comes to avoiding dangerous malware, it's always better to be safe than sorry.
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