Emailed link from a friend... open it?

How do you know when an emailed link or attachment is safe to open?  What are the potential damages to your IT systems and infrastructure?  What about the damage to your company's image and reputation if the link is a virus? There are articles and advice all over the web that focus on protecting your data, software, and hardware; but what about the image of your firm when an emailed virus is sent to clients, associates, vendors, and others that are in your address book?

What if you received an emailed virus from your mortgage lender, accountant, payroll service, or other associate or vendor that caused downtime and infected your IT systems?  Would you lose confidence in that organization to protect the integrity of your data?

Seras was recently called to help with one of these malicious emails.  A partner at a downtown Columbia Law Firm with about 35 employees received an email from a good friend with the subject line "Response to your Statement", and text reading "Hello, We would like to apologize for the delay in responding to your demand. Please find a response letter from our manager attached" -  common terminology in the law industry.  As soon as he opened the email and clicked on the attachment, his email account received a virus that infected his computer and emailed the virus to everyone in his address list (hundreds of people).   The expert technicians at Seras were able to quickly isolate the virus and clean infected areas of the entire infrastructure, but from an image standpoint the damage had been done.

Unfortunately, malware continues to evolve, making it difficult for current filers or safeguards to block malicious emails. Human error is the biggest threat for spreading infections across the world. Here are some basic rules everyone should follow to prevent further infections in your organization:

1.   If the email comes from a business - are they a vendor or customer?

2.  Do you personally know the sender?

3.  Is there a valid reason for the email or were you expecting it?

The general consensus is not to open any emailed attachments or click on any links that could be considered questionable.  Opening the email itself should not cause any problems, but clicking a link or opening an attachment will start the infection process.  Call, email, or text the sender before opening any attachments or clicking on any links.

Damage control takes place on two fronts.  First and most important is to have your PC and network components scanned for viruses and cleaned accordingly.  Furthermore, all staff members should be informed and instructed not to open the email if they received it.  Secondly, an email should be sent to your recipients outlining the situation and reassuring them that data protection and management is taken seriously and that additional steps are being taken to secure all client, employee, and proprietary data within your organization.

Seras provides computer and IT support to small and medium sized businesses throughout the Greater Columbia, SC area.  We strive to put ourselves in your shoes - not just focusing on your computer, but your business goals as a whole.  Call us today to schedule a free evaluation of your IT infrastructure or to discuss your information technology goals.