Tips for Spotting a Phishing Email This Christmas

As the silly season is around the corner, distracted Australians are thinking more about the upcoming festivities and taking a much-deserved break with family and friends. As they should, however, cybercriminals don’t take a break and use this time of year to take advantage of unsuspecting individuals within organisations with targeted phishing attacks.

In this blog post, we provide 5 tips for spotting a phishing email to protect yourself and your organisation during the Christmas period.

1. Check the sender email address 

Often when people receive an email, they will only look at the display name i.e. Bill Gates, and not probe further to look at the email address ( This is especially true when the display is one that is recognised. If an email or request looks unusual, the first port of call is to check the email address is correct and matches the display name.

2. Check the email format 

Some attackers may use more sophisticated techniques and spoof not only the display name but the email address itself too. In these cases, you should be wary of any indications that the format of the email looks unusual. Questions you should be asking yourself are:

  • Does the spacing look strange? 
  • Are logos displayed correctly in the sender’s signature? 
  • Does the email contain typos or spelling mistakes?

3. Assess the content 

If the email has come from a sender you communicate with frequently, you should be asking yourself the following questions: 

  • Does the tone match their usual emails? 
  • Is the request normal or out of the blue? 
  • If it’s a communication from an organisation, are they requesting you to act immediately? 

Financial institutions or other organisations with PCI data will contact you via phone with urgent requests and communicate through email for anything not urgent.

4. Validate URLs 

Sometimes attackers may use links in their emails to hijack web browsers or direct receivers to fraudulent websites attempting to gain credentials. By hovering over links in an email you are able to see the complete address. If the address looks suspicious then the link should not be clicked on.

5. If all else fails, call the sender 

If the sender is known to you but their request looks unusual, phone them to confirm the email is legitimate. It is much better to be safe than sorry, and if the request is urgent and valid it’s likely the sender will answer straight away.

Although email security may be the last thing on your mind this Christmas, you must remain vigilant to well-crafted emails that may contain malicious links. To find out more about how InfoTrust can improve your email security and create a culture of cybersecurity for your organisation, reach out to us today.

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