Every year online hackers improve their methods of tricking to use them during the festive season. Christmas phishing emails are one of the gifts no one asks Santa Claus for.
Nearly 324,000 US citizens were victims of phishing emails in 2021, making this type of email the most common cybercrime. Due to phishing, vishing (voice phishing), smishing (SMS phishing), and pharming (a cyberattack redirecting traffic from one website to another), victims lost more than $44 million last year.
As a Google Workspace admin, preserve the joy of online festive shopping for your organization, instead of making cyber scammers happy. Don’t let online crooks ruin Christmas magic, and get used to asking these eight questions when opening an email with a great deal.
1. Do you know the sender of the email?
It can look very similar to the brand’s official email address. During the Christmas season, we receive thousands of messages with greetings and offers from the companies we follow, so there may be sometimes a lack of attention to detail in each email. Unfortunately, this mistake can lead to the loss of not only our time but also our personal data.
2. Do the email address and the sender in the header match?
The next step is very simple. It only takes two seconds to check the sender’s name and the e-mail address from which this message was sent. If they don’t clearly match (e.g., if the sender is “Ben Johnson” and the email is a strange mix of letters and numbers) it screams “Don’t trust me!”. And stop, please, paying a lot of attention to the “official brand” email sent from the free domain.
Example of phishing email requesting immediate action and the email address and the sender’s name not matching.
3. Does the email request your immediate action?
“This offer expires in X minutes”. “Contact us immediately to receive your voucher”. “Track your delivery right now, if you don’t, it will be lost”. Be careful if the email wants you to take an action right away. Any official brand wouldn’t pressure you to buy their products, let alone request your account information, private postal or email address etc.
4. Do the links look safe?
Become an investigator and carefully check each link inside the emails before clicking them. Verify links in your browser, as cyber scammers try to lead you to their phishing sites. Fake websites can sometimes look a lot like official stores but their purpose is to steal your information or infect your device.
Note: be equally suspicious of any attachments. Did you not expect them? Are they small or their name is bizarre? Don’t open them if you want to enjoy the peaceful December atmosphere.
“New Text Document.txt”, 3.9KB
Example of a phishing email with a malicious attachment and the email address and the sender’s name not matching
5. Does the sender provide contact details?
Look for different ways to contact the sender. Usually, companies provide their social media channels, office address, and contact for customers, such as phone numbers and alternative email addresses. If you can’t find them in the email, or worse, the sender restricts you from contacting them directly, this could be a red flag for you.
6. Does the email have any typo errors?
Since scammers are often not native English speakers, you can detect Christmas phishing emails because of spelling and grammar errors. Equally suspicious is content that uses bizarre formatting or graphic design mistakes trying to pretend to be well-known brands.
7. Have you solicited this email?
Are you on this company’s subscription list? Have you ever been interested in their products? Do you remember taking part in this contest in which you seem to have just won? If you said “no” to one of these questions, be very careful with this email you found in your inbox.
Example of a phishing email about a fake contest with a malicious attachment
8. Does their offer not look too good?
If you can’t believe your luck, you know the answer: it can be a scam. Especially during this season, when there are usually not big discounts, and on the contrary, prices grow a lot. If you still don’t want to miss this great opportunity research whether the brand offers the same deals on its website. And go back to the first point of this list.
When you want to shop…
Keep these five online shopping mistakes in mind if you end up deciding that an email is safe and your bargain-hunting spirit can’t resist:
You already know how suspicious you should be when you receive a Christmas bargain email.
But humans are still humans.
It can happen that someone in your organization doesn’t pay enough attention to those red-flag signals mentioned above. That’s why it’s so important to still continue increasing Gmail security.
You can prevent users from opening damaging links or other malicious actions by using the Data Loss Prevention tools such as GAT+ and GAT Shield. They will find and remove spam or phishing emails from all accounts in your Google Workspace domain. They also work well for deleting inappropriate or accidental emails.
The tool can really save the devices in your domain from unwanted gifts. And save Christmas magic, too.
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