We all know there’s too much email spam in the world. (Take a look at this monitoring map here as just an example. Currently 70billion spam emails circulating the world.).
But as an organisation you need to be aware of this critical issue and take steps to make sure it doesn’t affect you.
Spam seems to be increasingly clever. Emails look very like reputable companies with the right logos, images, adverts, wording etc. If you’re not vigilant then the spam will get through. When enough emails are sent out that look like they come from Apple, Amazon, Tesco, Natwest, Royal Mail or travel companies and so on, then occasionally they will reach a customer of one of the ‘real’ businesses who can be fooled by the spam. I increasingly need to double check many more emails myself to check whether they are real or not!
Some things to consider:
How do emails get into your organisation? Do you have hosting, a cloud email provider, an email service such as Exchange Server running on your server? Do you use Gmail or outlook.com online? How do emails get to your computers, PC’s, laptops, tablets, phones etc?
By asking this first question you can look for the places that you need to be checking for spam. So which of these services have good and robust email spam protection running on them? How do you check or test it and know that it works?
What about your staff, volunteers, trustees, committee members etc. Are they all aware on how to identify spam if it gets through your filters and protections and what to do about it? This is a training and support issue. Most spam relies on tricking the reader into believing enough about the email to do something or click on something.
Remind staff that you should only be opening an email if you are expecting it and it’s from someone you expect to get emails from. If you’ve already opened it then double check an entire email before clicking on links or files. Attachments that are .exe or .zip are generally bad. Don’t click.
Attachments can be deceiving though. A .doc, or .docx or .pdf might really be a .exe which could contain a program, virus or infection. Think before you click.
Check the email address that the email came from. It might say it’s Natwest for example, but hover over the link – does it now look real or does it look like it’s from somewhere more dubious.
Overall, be cautious. If in doubt, make sure you ask your IT support to check if it’s spam. If you are that IT support then do you know yourself how to check for spam?
If spam does get through then is your anti-virus working on ALL your machines and devices? Is it setup correctly and up to date? Does it scan emails too or just any attachments?
The issue here is that spam is here to stay. No matter the size of your organisation you need to know you are dealing with and managing the spam risk (at the business level) and that ALL your staff and volunteer team know how to deal with spam. Don’t let spam win.