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Is That Email A Phishing Scheme?

49 Research has revealed that over half of all users end up opening fraudulent emails and often even fall for them. Phishing is done with the aim of gathering personal information about you, generally related to your finances. The most common reason for the large number of people falling for fraudulent emails is that the phishing attempts are often so well-disguised that they escape the eyes of a busy email reader. Here are a few tips that help you identify whether that email really came from your bank or is another attempt at defrauding you…

1. They are asking for personal information – Remember, no bank or financial institution asks you to share your key personal information via email, or even phone. So, if you get an email where they ask for your ATM PIN or your e-banking password, something’s amiss.

2. The links seem to be fake – Phishing emails always contain links that you are asked to click on. You should verify if the links are genuine. Here are a few things to look for when doing that:

  • Spelling – Check for the misspellings in the URL. For example, if your bank’s web address is www.bankofamerica.com, a phishing scheme email could misspell it as www.bankofamarica.com or www.bankofamerica-verification.com
  • Disguised URLs – Sometimes, URLs can be disguised…meaning, while they look genuine, they ultimately redirect you to some fraudulent site. You can recognize the actual URL upon a mouseover, or by right clicking on the URL, and selecting the ‘copy hyperlink’ option and pasting the hyperlink on a notepad file. But, NEVER ever, paste the hyperlink directly into your web browser.
  • URLs with ‘@’ signs – If you find a URL that has an ‘@’ sign, steer clear of it even if it seems genuine. Browsers ignore URL information that precedes @ sign. That means, the URL www.bankofamerica.com@mysite.net will take you to mysite.net and not to any Bank of America page.

3. Other tell-tale signs – Apart from identifying fake URLs, there are other tell-tale signs that help you identify fraudulent emails. Some of these include:

  • Emails where the main message is in the form of an image, which, upon opening, takes you to the malicious URL.
  • Another sign is an attachment. Never open attachments from unknown sources as they may contain viruses that can harm your computer and network.
  • The message seems to urge you to do something immediately. Scammers often induce a sense of urgency in their emails and threaten you with consequences if you don’t respond. For example, threat of bank account closure if you don’t verify your ATM PIN or e-banking password.

4. Finally, get a good anti-virus/email protection program installed. It can help you by automatically directing spam and junk mail into spam folders and deactivating malicious attachments.

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Consider More Than Email When Choosing a Cloud-Based Email Provider

When it comes to deciding on a cloud-based email provider, small-to-medium sized businesses have two primary choices – Google Apps or Microsoft Office 365. In talking with SMB owners or technology decision makers, we’ve found that many have pledged their allegiance to Google and don’t want to hear a pitch for Microsoft. Many are adamant that they have everything they need in the core offerings of Google Apps – Gmail, Docs/Drive, Hangouts, and Sites.

While these are undoubtedly solid offerings, they are more than individual products. How about comparing Google Apps and Microsoft Office 365 in regard to the collective experience as a whole? By looking at the sum of their respective parts, many may find that Google Apps is actually limiting them to a degree. Here are a few examples

  • Pricing – Google has a one-size fits all approach to pricing. This approach is contradictory to the biggest selling point o 24 f Cloud technology, which is to pay for what you use, just like your electric or gas utility bills. By comparison, Microsoft lets users pay for only what they need.
  • Google Drive Lacks Efficiency with MS Office Files – While the Google Drive cloud storage app is fairly adept at handling native files, MS Office files are treated like the plague and must be downloaded, edited, and re-uploaded into the Google Drive. From there, expect to see formatting inconsistencies such as missing text boxes, images, graphics, watermarks, charts and more. In comparison, Microsoft provides more uniformity from document to document whether it’s sourced from a desktop version of Office or any web browser via the cloud.
  • Google Hangout Is More for Friends than Business – Google Hangouts, Google’s video chat and group conferencing tool, is deeply rooted in their social network Google+. There is nothing inherently wrong with Google+ besides the fact that it’s still kind of new and lifeless in comparison to other social media sites. However, in order to participate in a Hangout, users must have a Google+ account. This means external users without any Google accounts are shut out of meetings. On top of that, Google Hangouts limits meetings to no more than ten participants. By comparison, Microsoft Lync is all-inclusive and is even available to those on Google and Apple platforms. With the ability to include 250 meeting participants, Lync can even replace GoToMeeting for online conferencing.

As you can see, choosing a cloud-based email provider involves a lot more than determining who can best solve your email problems today. SMBs must also factor in which provider will best address their business document storage and unified communications the best tomorrow. In this regard, Microsoft Office 365 may have more of an “It” factor than Google which seems to have adopted an “our way or the highway” mentality and is less supportive of anything outside of the Google bubble.

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