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    If an Email Subject is Urgent, Be Skeptical

    11 September, 2020
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    Important Update! Urgent! Expires in 1 Day! Confirm your Email Now! Your Password Has Been Stolen!

    Payment Due Now! Immediate Action Required! Almost Expired!

    We’ve all received emails with these type of subject lines – the type that create a real sense of urgency, making it harder to view the message objectively.

    Haste really does make waste, as the familiar saying goes. And neuroscience even backs up this warning, since studies show that our brains analyze information very differently when we’re under “speed stress.” The more we’re pushed to make quick decisions, the more likely we are to make mistakes. Cyber attackers know this and use it to their advantage

    It's critical to be aware of psychological tricks used in “phishing” emails and to be ready for such scams!

    Phishing Emails Appear Legitimate

    Phishing attacks work because they use techniques that are likely to fool users who are not prepared to identify and avoid them. While they look legitimate, they are usually spoofing a legitimate site or service.

    At first glance, a phishing email might seem to be coming from your bank, for example. The “from” address appears real and might get past your email filter. It may even show your bank’s logo.

    This is what makes phishing emails so dangerous.

    They often contain dangerous attachments or have links to dangerous sites. Often, the biggest danger comes from where the email directs the user to go.

    Spotting a Phishing Attack

    If an email claims to be extremely urgent or requests information for something you did not initiate, be skeptical and take the following actions:

    1. Carefully hover over (do not click!) links to see if they go to a legitimate URL. If the email is from PayPal, for example, a link should lead back to paypal.com or accounts.paypal.com. If there is anything strange between “paypal” and the “.com” then it is suspicious. (If there are additional words in the URL, there should be a forward slash (/) after the .com.) Domains are all managed differently, but here are some general standards:
      • com - Safe
      • com/activatecard - Safe
      • paypal.com - Safe
      • paypal.com/retail - Safe
      • com.activatecard.net - Suspicious!
      • com.activatecard.net/secure - Suspicious!
      • com/activatecard/tinyurl.com/retail - Suspicious! 
    2. Check the email in the header.Often words are slightly misspelled: “amazn” instead of amazon. Do a quick Google search for the email address to see if it is legitimate.
    3. Pause before opening links/attachments. If there is an attachment or link in the email, be extra cautious.
    4. Be careful about “password alerts.”If the email mentions passwords, such as “your password was stolen,” be suspicious.

    Although spam-blocking solutions can help weed out some phishing attacks, others may still get through.

    If you are getting suspicious emails and want us to take a look, give us a call at 877-223-6401 or visit www.caltech.com to learn more.

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