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How to Recognize and Dispose of Malicious Emails


Organizations must institute different techniques and procedures to protect email accounts and content against unauthorized access. Despite the implementation of security procedures, many organizations are still exposed to the threats of malicious emails.

The attachments in malicious emails are often disguised as PDFs, documents, voicemails, or e-files. Hackers attach files to emails and install malware that destroys data. Some infections can let the attacker take control of the users’ host devices and the network, allowing those attackers to access the systems. 

Understanding malicious emails

A malicious email is a kind of internet fraud scam where a hacker sends email messages that look legitimate. They attempt to deceive individuals and lure them into disclosing their personal information as an account number or password. 

A malicious person uses the user’s information to steal the identity or money from the account. 

Malicious emails are essentially phishing attacks where victims disclose their private information to third parties. In many cases, the victims respond to the attackers without thinking twice. Cybercriminals specifically ask for details such as phone numbers, home addresses, credit card details, social security numbers, and so on. Organizations should focus on protection against email threats such as deeply embedded attacks and targeted phishing attacks.

Customs or delivery phishing

Many cases of postage-themed phishing emails have been reported in the past few months. Many people are now shopping online, which means more packages are being delivered to customers. The FCC receives a lot of complaints about delivery notification scan texts or calls. 

The attackers ask you to make some payments to access a package through an attachment or a malicious link. You should be cautious because such malicious emails can integrate brand impersonation, making them look legitimate. 

Look out for keywords such as Pending customs fees or Failed delivery attempt, especially if you have not ordered goods recently. Emphasize the importance of an SSL certificate to keep your personal data and information safe when using the internet. 

Brand impersonation phishing

One of the most successful and common phishing emails is brand impersonation. The attackers trick users into thinking that they are trustworthy, so the users disclose confidential information. The attackers can also trick the users into clicking on suspicious links at a glance. To protect yourself against such attacks, always check the senders’ emails for any signs of inconsistencies. 

If the address does not appear legitimate, confirm with the brand immediately through the official contact details on the website. Look out for keywords such as Click on links, Update payment information, and Reset password required. 

Microsoft remains a target for brand impersonation owing to its over 11,000 unique phishing URLs. The brand is a top target for such attacks due to the popularity of Microsoft 365 among enterprises and SMBs. The financial sector is among the top sectors to be impersonated in 2022. 

Urgent emails

If you receive an email about a data breach or promotion, the chances of opening are very high. That is why these kinds of malicious emails receive the most clicks- the attackers know that most recipients will respond. Look out for an email with a subject line requesting you to take further action urgently. 

The keywords to look out for include Grab your bonus, Your data will be lost, Immediate action required, and Save your account. A good example of urgent phishing emails is CEO fraud. The attackers use email addresses you are familiar with, such as the one belonging to the Human Resource Manager or the organization’s CEO. The email asks you to act and transfer money, install a new app on your device, or update your details. 

The following are common ways to detect urgent emails scams:

  • Misspelled domain name. Although domain names are unique, there are various ways through which suspicious people can manipulate addresses. If the domain name is misspelled, that’s an indication of a malicious email.
  • A poorly written email. An email that contains poor grammar or spelling mistakes is more likely to be a malicious one. 
  • The email contains suspicious links or attachments. Malicious emails will have suspicious links or attachments. The attacker will ask you to click on the link or download an attachment so they can capture sensitive information. 

Tax-related malicious emails

There have been recent cases of fake tax-related malicious emails, especially around the tax season. The attackers seek things such as your Banking details, Social Security Number, and any other confidential details, so they can hack your account.

Whenever you receive a suspicious email that seems to come from a taxation authority, always inquire about the source further. If you are anticipating a wage or tax subsidy refund, contact the tax authority to confirm the status.

There have been recent cases of COVID-Related Fraud characterized by taxpayers transferring appreciated property to charitable remainder annuity trusts (CRATs). The CRATs sell assets without recognizing gain due to a reliance on a specific setup. The CRAT uses the sales proceeds to buy an immediate annuity. 

Protecting against malicious emails

Creating an awareness of how phishing emails happen is an effective way to guard against attacks. It is very easy to be tricked into revealing personal information through email attachments and links. Protection against phishing emails involves the following procedures:

  • Monitoring. With the help of phishing simulation tools, you can monitor employee identity and knowledge to know whether there are individuals who are exposed to cybercrimes.
  • Educating. Security awareness training helps to create awareness regarding how malicious emails work.
  • Communication. Provide continuous campaigns and communications about malicious emails, cybersecurity, and social engineering.
  • Incorporation. Make project management, training, education, support, and security awareness campaigns part of your organizational culture. 


Many individuals and organizations have been victims of malicious emails. The goal of the attackers is to capture sensitive data and information and use it for personal gain. The attackers keep on changing phishing emails to reflect the issues you care about most. Understanding how malicious emails work and the different types that exist will enable you to detect scammers and institute measures to protect your sensitive information.