This morning I got a rather strange email from a friend living in Raunds, a small town in rural Northamptonshire, England. It is odd because we have never emailed; usually, instant chat platform like Facebook and Messenger will suffice.
Based on that history, I was skeptical about opening the link. Yes, the name of the sender is a very familiar name; someone who does not arouse any suspicions of being capable of sending me malicious links.
Confirm the Email Address that sent the message, despite you knowing the name of Sender
Though the name looked very familiar, I decided to check what email address was used. My suspicions were confirmed, the email address was strange. You see, my friend’s email goes something like ‘janedoe’@gmail.com; the domain name is Google. However, the email address that sent this email used a strange domain name. One that I wouldn’t expect my friend to be using.
You should use the following elimination test whenever you are suspicious of an email:
Step 1 – Confirm the email of the sender if it is someone you know. Ensure that the spelling of the name is right, a hacker could be mimicking your’ friends name but was too hasty that they misspelled the name.
Step 2 – Confirm the email address. Most people make the mistake of not verifying the email address if they already know the name of the sender.
If the email passes all the two tests above, take it to the next and most reassuring tests. Using online Link Scanners. You might be having a good antivirus securing your local system, but your email address remains the most vulnerable part. Especially if you are using free email services like Gmail and Yahoo Mail and a freemium version of the antivirus.
The freemium antivirus does not come with email scanners that will automatically scan through your email messages and flag any suspicious emails. For that, you will have to use due diligence.
Use the free Link Scanners to check on the security of the links emailed
While there is a safe way to check on the safety of a link, you need to be very careful in how you will copy the link and post it on the link scanners’ sites to run the safety check. If you get this part wrong, you might end up unintentionally opening the link and then getting your computer infected.
Carefully, RIGHT CLICK ON THE LINK, to bring up the context menu, then click on Copy Link. It will read Copy Link Address on Chrome, Copy Link Location on Firefox, and Copy shortcut on Internet Explorer.
Then open a different tab on the browser and go to the following genuine link checker.
This site comes highly recommended as it also properly handles shortened URLs from services like TinyURL, Ow.ly, and bitly. URLvoid will scan the shortening service site used instead of the site to which the link leads. To scan the safety of the site to which the link leads, use the service below.
This site automatically expands the shortened URL and using other services like Google, Norton, PhishTank, and SafeWeb proceed to analyze its safety. It will then give you a result about the safety of such link in a full report manner, outlining everything wrong with the site.
As you can see, had I blindly opened that email,
That said, never open any links sent to you out of the blue. Especially if you had no prior expectation from the sender, even if you performed the tests mentioned earlier above, and the email passed the test.
It could be your friend’s email has been compromised even without them knowing, and is now sending out phishing links, malware, and viruses without their knowledge. It could also be a ransomware that locked them out of their computer and is currently using her contact list to spread out.