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It is vital that anyone who sends and receives emails daily (at home or at work) is made aware and well educated on these common types of cyber threats. There are a wide range of things you should remember or put into place to ensure your computer/computers are protected the best way possible.

• Avoid giving your email address out online. If you publish your email address on the web, make it unscannable so that it cannot be harvested by bots. There are alternative ways to display an email address which in turn makes it hard for spam bots and cyber criminals to harvest it.

• Never open an attachment that is a .zip file or .exe file unless you are expecting it. Files from unknown senders often contain some kind of malware or virus.

• Check who is sending you email communication. Be aware that malware, phishing scams or spam may come from unrecognizable or odd email addresses, however legitimate email addresses can be forged easily.

• Never respond. If unsure, report the message as ‘spam’ to your service provider, and delete it! Also, you should delete the email from your trash to save you accidentally opening it in the future.

• Only click links from trusted senders. If an email has a link you don’t recognize, take a closer look by hovering your mouse over and checking the destination in your browser. If it doesn’t match, it is not legitimate.

• Check for spelling, grammar and syntax. Most malware, phishing scams or spam originate from foreign countries so may contain some very obvious errors.

• A reputable company or organization will never use an email to request personal information. If you think there is a possibility it may be legitimate, type the real URL into your browser or contact the company directly.

• Reading an email in plain text rather than html can help to avoid phishing attempts, however this is not 100% foolproof.

• Report any suspicious or scam emails to the company that is being imitated, your email security provider.

• If a computer runs slowly, keeps crashing or stops responding often, this could be a sign that the computer is infected. Get an IT professional to take a look for you.

• It is extremely important to back up your data every single day.

• Utilize multilayered defenses. This includes installing anti-virus, anti-malware, anti-spyware, and using cloud based email filtering and web filtering services. You should also not conduct day to day work with Administrator privileges on your workstation. Instead, you should use elevated privileges only when required, for example to install trusted software. Having one form of protection alone may not cover you for all the possible threats.

• Keep your software regularly updated. Software that updates automatically is incredibly beneficial to busy organizations.

• Use strong passwords and keep them secret. It is also a good idea to change them on a regular basis. Don't use the same password for multiple accounts.

• Install a firewall on your computer and never turn it off.

• Increase security settings on your browser. You can limit user rights to certain online sites.

• Use external devices cautiously. This includes USBs and iPads/iPhones etc. as these can become infected with malware, corrupting your computer. Cyber criminals are quite adept at tricking email users into falling for their scams. They are always coming up with new methods of deception. It is in the best interest of every company to ensure all their employees and customers are educated on the most commonly known threats. Staying cyber-vigilant and applying solid security measures, is always the best defense against any future breaches.