As a systems administrator, I see thousands of emails come in where someone is trying to get a user to click on a link. A lot of these are just plain old “I want to sell you this.” They are very annoying, but ultimately harmless.
But a high percentage have malicious intent. They pretend to be your bank so that they fool you into typing in your password onto their fake website that looks similar to your own banking site. Some want you visit a link so that they can infect your PC with malware, adware, or a virus.
It is usually easy to spot these rogues. You will undoubtedly have seen an email in the past where the grammar was so atrocious that it made you laugh out loud a little. But be mindful. Some tricks are very clever.
For example, during this COVID-19 pandemic, please be aware of any emails that look like they are coming from a reputable source. According to TrendMicro.com, they have seen an uptick in the amount of emails flagged with the subject “Corona Virus Latest Updates.”1 A lot of these emails are targeted overseas. This means that America is on the list. Please be careful of any and all emails that come in with attachments. These might look like simple document files or excel spreadsheets, but they can have scripts embedded in them that will install malicious software. One example is being sent to China in mass right now stating in the subject line a “Quick Remedy” for the coronavirus. The attached Microsoft DOC is not safe.
The quick and easy solution is to not download anything from emails unless you are certain of the sender. Even then it is best to verify with that person sometimes. It is sometimes better to seem paranoid than to get infected.
Another best practice is to never click on a link unless you know where the email came from. Many times it might look reputable, but the link will take you to a not-so-reputable site. If you hover over any link in your email, look in the bottom right-hand corner of whatever application you are using and you will see more information about the link. If it is a malicious link, then then actual address of the link will look nothing like the place it claims to go.
As Peter proclaimed, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.”2 Except now the adversary has access to the internet as well, so his walking around can also be virtual.
1. Developing Story: Coronavirus Used in Malicious Campaigns. Trend Micro. Posted on trendmicro.com March 26, 2020, accessed March 26, 2020.
2. 1 Peter 5:8.
*William West is IT Systems Administrator at the Institute for Creation Research and earned his Master of Christian Education from ICR’s School of Biblical Apologetics.
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