Emails from those that you don’t know may be benign attempts to reach out with an offer, invitation, or question. Billions of emails are sent every second, equating to 74 trillion emails sent every year! Lost in this crush of digital information is the reality that not every email that you receive will be benevolent. Many hackers and others who are practicing social engineering will target email addresses indiscriminately in an effort to gain access to your machine and the computers of thousands of other potential victims, as well.
Always remain cautious when approaching an unknown sender’s email.
The short answer is that you shouldn’t open an email from an unknown sender, but there is far more to the story than this simple answer. One great resource that consumers have at their disposal is an email lookup service. Adding a free one to your repertoire is easy, just search for “email lookup free” to get started. With a tool like this, you can find email addresses, phone numbers, domain registrations, social media profiles, and even the person’s name who owns these accounts. Whether you’re searching for an email address that you don’t recognize or want to find out more about the spammer that keeps calling you at all hours of the day, an email lookup service is your best bet.
In addition to understanding where these threats are originating from, it’s important to understand the how and why of the trouble as well. Read on to discover how malicious email address attacks work and what you can do to mitigate the risks.
Social engineering lies at the heart of spam emails.
Social engineering is a devastating weapon in the tool belt of a hacker or cybercriminal. Businesses and private individuals often prioritize password strength, encryption methods, and other digital protective measures. Social engineers are more devious and strike at the weakest component of your securitization efforts: you. The thing that makes social engineering attacks so complex is the innocent-seeming nature of the initial approach. In email form, social engineers will spoof a trusted sender (perhaps a business like Microsoft, Norton, or Amazon) in order to get you to lower your guard.
These approaches are often characterized by a message that looks legitimate but carries one or more questionable elements, such as a letter missing from the name of the company (perhaps it’s a typo, right?), or a request that makes you shrug your shoulders, like a request for payment on an item you already received or didn’t order. Social engineering is a type of phishing attack, whereby the hacker tries to pry open a window into your personal or financial information by simply asking you in a convincing manner to provide them with access or data.
Social engineers and phishing experts are well-versed in the psychological features of the human mind. Phishing scams are among the most common forms of social engineering as a result. Scammers in this arena rely on manipulation and uncertainty in order to achieve their goals.
The truth is that unknown emails could be from a friend of a friend or a corporate colleague that you don’t know very well. Yet, many of these emails are the work of scammers and are designed to cloud your judgment. Opening an email is often harmless, but the contents of that message can be infinitely damaging to your financial, social, or business standing. Make sure you approach any email like this with the utmost level of caution in order to protect yourself at all times. Digital attacks are on the rise in the modern world, so protecting yourself is something that is simply an essential step.