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1 in every 2 surfers clicks on links in emails

Half of online surfers click on the links they receive in their emails, even if they don’t know where the message came from. That’s according to a survey conducted by the German university FAU. Not a smart move, because these links may be a front for the work of cybercriminals. By allowing you to click in this way, the crims are simply trying to steal confidential information or install malware on your PC. The following points should sound an alarm:

Who’s the sender?

The email appears to come from a trusted source, such as your bank. But danger could be lurking: always look carefully at the email address. The part following the @ must either be the domain name itself or be separated by a dot. And the domain name is always followed .be, .com, .eu, .net, .org, etc. If you have any doubts, contact the sender by telephone or at the usual email address.

Is the salutation impersonal?

Senders who know you normally address you with your full (family) name, or at the very least they know your gender. And they don’t usually address you as ‘Dear Sir/Madam’.

Are they asking for personal information?

Is someone asking you to send them personal information (credit card number of other payment details, etc.) or to fill in something like a webform? If they are, then don’t do it. Senders you can trust, such as your bank or government departments, never ask you for confidential information by email.

Stern-sounding tone?

Is the email written in a stern-sounding tone, or you weren’t expecting it anyway? Emails warning you that your account has been hacked or telling you to pay an invoice are often suspicious.

Language errors?

Phony emails often contain spelling mistakes or grammatical errors. And if you receive an email in a language other than your mother tongue, then that’s also a sign that it’s a con.

Where does the link take you to?

Don’t be click-happy and just click on the link in the email. Instead, hover your mouse over the link and at the bottom of the window or right by your cursor arrow you’ll see the web address the link will take you to. If it’s not the official website or it’s a shortcut link, then it’s probably a fake.

Attachments? Be careful!

Attachments can contain malware. When you open the attachment, the malware is installed on your computer. So never open an attachment from a sender you don’t trust. And look at the file format, too. Zip, exe, pdf and javascript (js) files may be suspect.