How to Recognize and Prevent an Email Malware Attack

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Cyberattacks remain a serious threat even though today’s digital security systems become more and more complex and sophisticated. Working with an insecure system puts you at a wide range of risks in terms of cybersecurity. Email inbox is one of the most important things you should pay close attention to in this context.

First of all, what is malware? In a nutshell, it is a malicious program that can harm a system or network by exploiting its vulnerabilities. There are many various types of malware that include ransomware, spyware, viruses, worms, etc. It can get into the system after the user clicks on a malicious attachment or link in an email. As a result, malware gets automatically installed into the system, and as soon as this happens, it can restrict access to the essential system or network components, install other malicious software, steal data from the network or system and send it to the hacker, and disrupt the system’s functioning among other things.

Tips for Recognizing an Email Malware Attack

Although malware-containing emails can differ by content and topic, there are ways to recognize them. We are going to review the most common ways of spotting malware emails. In case you notice any of the below-mentioned factors in an email message, make sure to delete it.

Suspicious Sender Email

If you don’t seem to recognize the sender’s email address or it doesn’t match the name of a company mentioned in it, it might well be a malware email message. Most malware-containing messages look like faxes or scans, delivery notices, court notices, invoices, and other things that may seem important to almost anybody out there. So, if you get an email that states it’s from UPS, but its address looks like [email protected], for example, this is most surely a scam, because UPS only sends messages from ups.com.

The Message Wants You to Verify Some Information

If a message asks you to confirm, check, review, or provide some personal data through an attachment, the chances are high that it contains malware. Therefore, it’s just not safe to open such an attachment, unless you are completely confident that the source is safe.

The Message Persuades to Open the Attachment

A lot of malware-containing emails are trying hard to persuade their recipients to open the attachments they contain. It has to be mentioned that it’s not safe to open them even if you are running an antivirus. So, if you get an email that states some package delivery issue and asks you to open the attachment, it’s best to not do it, because a reputable delivery firm would simply write all the details in the message or even give you a call.

The Message Asks to Follow a Link

Some malicious emails ask recipients to click a web link. Although regular emails can ask you to do the same, it’s important to take notice of other factors we’ve already mentioned. The thing is that such links often lead to malware.

Suspicious Attachments

If you get an email from an unknown source with an attachment with a .doc, .js, .ace, .exe, .com, .pdf, .xls, .zip, .rar, or any other extension, this is also an indication that there’s malware inside of it.

How Do You Prevent an Email Malware Attack?

Although it is possible to clean up an infected system and remove malware from it, it takes a toll on your security and can potentially harm your data. Some of the harm caused by some types of malware can’t be fixed. Some types, such as Win32 Malware-gen will keep on downloading and installing other malware into your system until you get rid of it. So, it’s best to try and not let a malware attack happen.

It’s important to note that there is no 100% secure way to prevent email malware attacks. But, there are reliable techniques that can help you keep these threats at bay.

Check the Content of the Received Messages

Before clicking any links or attachments in a supposedly suspicious message, make sure to check its content – what does it say in the text, does the address match the claims, why do they want you to click the link or open the attachment, etc. Many people fall victim to malware because they’re too curious and they want to find out what’s on the other side of that link or what’s inside the attachment.

Use a Security Solution to Protect the System from Malicious Codes

Having reliable security software on a computer is critical. It helps to protect both your equipment and information, considering the incredibly vast variety of malware that’s being distributed through email messages.

There are many free malware protection solutions, such as BitDefender and Avira, as well as paid ones, such as Malwarebytes and Avast. They are meant for recognizing and preventing malicious codes from infecting your system. Of course, it’s necessary to update your solution regularly and meddle with its settings a bit, depending on your needs.

Always Update Your Operating System, Applications, and Software

Making sure your software is up to date will help you prevent more infections because the databases and libraries are constantly updated to provide the best protection possible. If your malware protection solution is not up to date, it will almost surely miss some altered malicious code’s signature. This will result in your system getting infected and you may notice it late, when your computer is flooded with worms and Trojans or worse.

In the same manner, it’s also crucial to make certain that the software you download and install to your system is authentic. Even though email is one of the most common ways of malware distribution, illegitimate software is also one of the vectors of its spread.

The Bottom Line

Considering the sheer amount and unfathomable variety of malware that is being spread through emails, it’s pretty much just a matter of time before you end up a victim of harmful code.

The best way to keep your system protected from malware is to combine a reliable security solution with effective security practices. Consider the tips described above to spot malicious email messages and follow prevention procedures to not let harmful codes get into your system and cause mischief.

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