Here’s How to Have a Clean Email Inbox

According to a report from The Radicati Group over 205 billion emails are sent and received everyday, worldwide. Symantec estimates that 54.6% of those emails are spam and that the average users receives 16 malicious emails per month. That’s a lot of emails and a lot of potential viruses. How many emails are in your inbox right now — 10, 50, 300?

In honour of Clean Out Your Inbox Week we have tips about email threats to watch for and the top tips on how to keep your inbox clean and safe.

3 Main Types of Email Threats

1. Phishing

This is an illegitimate attempt to steal a person’s personal, banking, or identity information. Phishing emails will try to trick you by appearing to be from someone familiar, like a reputable organization, or a relative. Often you see an emotional call for help, or a request for banking information in return for a large deposit.

For example:

This is a phishing attempt where the phishers are pretending to be PayPal – but you have to look closely, this looks very legitimate.

For everything you need to know about phishing emails check our guide here.

2. Malicious Email Attachments

These are a constantly evolving threat that everyone, even cyber security professional, are concerned about. It could be an email from someone you know with an attachment. The name of the attached file might be a long string of numbers or something like “Funniest Picture Ever”.

Do not click on it. By clicking on it you download the file onto your computer, then when you open this file it launches an attack. This might be a virus that will slow down your computer, malware designed to monitor your usage, or an evolved threat designed to log your personal information. And often these are designed to hide on your computer without being noticed.

This is an example shows a malicious attachment circled in red. Think before you click!

3. Baiting

Although similar to phishing, in baiting emails the hacker uses a good or service to entice the victims into clicking. There will likely be a link to download a program or application, usually for free. This is where they get you!

For example, you may see a subject line that says “Try Our Free Program Today” from an unknown sender. Then at the bottom of that email you’ll see a link to download the free program. But again, do not click. If you click to download the program and run it, you will be exposed to whatever threat was in the attachment.

3 Tips to Keep Your Inbox Clean

1. Unsubscribe from email you no longer want to receive

If you haven’t opened an email from a company in a few months and you’re no longer interested in what they’re sending you then save yourself time and just unsubscribe yourself so you no longer get them. You can usually unsubscribe at the bottom of any email.

2. Delete old emails you don’t need

Sometimes we open an email and forget to delete it or hold on to it thinking you’ll want it in the future. Skim through your inbox and delete any old emails you no longer need.

3. Create folders and file away any important emails

Most email platforms let you create folders for your emails. You can customize them for what’s best for you so the important emails are filed away and you can delete the rest. Here is an easy guide for how to create folders in Gmail.

4 Questions to Ask Yourself Before You Open That Email

1. Is the email from an unknown sender? 

If it’s an unknown sender it is best to delete it. If you do open to read it, don’t click on any links or attachments. You can always contact a company directly through their website to confirm the offer or email to be safe.

2. Are there spelling or grammar mistakes?

If you see one too many grammar and spelling errors in an email that is supposed to be from an established company, or a trusted relative, you may have received a phishing or baiting email.

3. Did a trusted program mark it as spam?

Many companies can scan your emails for threats. McAfee Total Protection includes a built-in browser extension called WebAdvisor that scans all of your downloads. If the program determines that the download is a threat, it will alert you! Try it out with a large discount here.

4. Does this remind you of a recent scam you heard about?

Social media is a great place to stay up-to-date with the latest threats. Often people will share their own experiences in hopes of helping others. You can also like us on Facebook to get the latest security information.

Keeping your email inbox cyber secure means that you need a vigilant eye! Look out for details like suspicious links, bad writing, and threatening/emotional pleas. And remember, if you are unsure about an email, or believe it to be a threat, just click delete!

You can follow more Clean out Your Inbox Week content on our Facebook page here, and our blog here.