Are Your Users Afraid of Email?

According to Mail.com, 45 percent of Americans fear that their email is not safe and 77 percent do not trust that their email provider is doing enough to keep their personal information safe and protect them against hackers and spam.

As the person responsible for email at your organization, the question posed to you comes from a line in Brian De Palma’s The Untouchables, “What are you prepared to do?”

Like Eliot Ness, you have to be prepared to take the fight to the bad guys. You can’t be content to sit back and react to what is happening. One of the best ways to do that is to take a lesson from the famous G-Man and use the people around you – your coworkers. You see, when you have an educated user base combined with a strong email security solution you cut the risk of an email related attack down tremendously and make the streets safe once again for the general public, or at least your users.

As we start a new year, here are a few things you should educate your users about to give them more confidence and help secure your mail services:

Be suspicious of attachments and links

Even if the email comes from a coworker or your boss make sure that it is legitimate. Cyber criminals often rely on the fact that people trust emails that look like they come from inside the workplace. The problem is, forging an email address or the sender name is relatively easy so they can make it look like your boss sent you a report to download or that the human resources department needs to you click on a link to read over a new policy. Teach them to verify any requests that are unsolicited.

Never give up

Your account information that is; email scams often ask people to provide their login name or passwords. The criminal then uses this to steal company information or impersonate you to try and trick a user with access to the resources they want.

Any company that does not have a written policy regarding asking for passwords should really make that a priority. No one should ever be asked to hand over any type of sensitive information over the phone or via email.

Be careful when using public wireless

Checking your email at the local coffee shop may seem like a productive way to spend your time. But if your mobile device is not secured, a bad guy could easily snoop in on what you are doing. Emails that are sent over public Internet connections should always be encrypted to keep prying eyes off any confidential information.

Look before you leap

Too many people open email attachments that are actually malicious files ready to infect your computer. Earlier it was said that you should teach your coworkers to never trust attachments, but even if they do trust the sender they should still scan the attachment before downloading it.

Many of the better email security solutions offer the scanning of all attachments as an option. This should definitely be explored and implemented. If your solution does not provide this type of protection, its time you look for one that does.

Don’t get emotional

The bad guys often get people to fall for their scams by playing off their emotions. They may try to make you feel afraid that if you don’t do what they say, something bad will happen to you. Others try to make you feel sympathy in order to get you to do something. Others will even play off of human greed, promising something great in return.

Anytime you feel strong emotions tied to an email message think twice. Look into what they are asking you to do, verify the sender and be smart.

Educating users is easier than you think. Giving them the ability to spot attacks, and helping them learn what to do when they spot an attack, can provide you with a great ally in your fight against email borne threats in your workplace.

Written by Jeff Orloff

3 Comments

  1. David Black · January 16, 2013

    It’s hardly surprising that users are scared by all the dangers that come with emails. This isn’t all bad – when they are scared, they will be more careful, which will decrease the risk of becoming an easy victim.

  2. Matilda S. · January 17, 2013

    My mom is deathly afraid of e-mails or anything computer related, for that matter. I can count in my fingers the number of times she’s touched a keyboard and tried using the PC. And yet she’s doing very fine. It seems like she hasn’t really missed anything at all. So I guess even if e-mail is very important, it doesn’t make or break any person’s world. And I don’t mind if there are a lot of people who are afraid of e-mail. In fact, it’s great they fear it since they’ll be very careful when it comes to using it.

  3. Jack Short · January 27, 2013

    One of my commandments these days is to do research. I keep myself up-to-date on malware, viruses, and other news that are related to email. I subscribe to blogs such as this. By increasing my knowledge about threats, I am able to make more informed and wise decisions, such as what details to watch out when reading an e-mail or how to spot a suspicious mail and get it read of it before I accidentally open it. Of course, there are times when I fail to pay attention, but so far, I’m able to curb those dangers well, and I learn how to get past my fear of e-mails.

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