IT Security Tip

A common threat today is “E-Mail Spoofing”. Email spoofing is the forgery of an email header, so that the message appears to have originated from someone or somewhere other than the actual source. Email spoofing is a tactic used in phishing and spam campaigns because people are more likely to open an email when they think it has been sent by a legitimate source.

Here are a few “Red Flags” to help you identify “spoofed e-mails”:

Red Flag 1: Intimidation or Rushing
If you receive an email unexpectedly that is requesting information, money or other actions in an unusually short period of time – be suspicious. Begin to evaluate the email for the other red flags listed here. By rushing or intimidating you, email hackers are hoping that you won’t take time to scrutinize the email for flaws; don’t fall into this trap. Be alert, aware and thorough as you look for Phishing emails.

Red Flag 2: Small Mistakes
Emails with poor grammar or illogical sentence sequence should be evaluated. Vague headers or generic greetings, such as “Hello Customer,” could be a phishing email indicator. Additionally, the “From” email address could be very similar to the contact. By using letters that appear similar, such as an “rn” instead of an “m”, hackers can better fool you and have the opportunity to gain valuable information and data. Pay attention to sender information and the overall look and feel of emails you receive.

Red Flag 3: Requests for Private or Sensitive Information
If someone requests private or sensitive information, this should raise a red flag. These requests can be elaborate and seem valid at first, but you have to evaluate if the requested information should be sent at all. A common situation we encounter is a CEO asks for information that he should already possess or know. Phishing emails requesting sensitive data will probably be coupled with rushing and other red flags.

Red Flag 4: Requests to Open an Email Attachment
Email attachments allow hackers to run malicious software when you open or download the attachment. If you receive an email attachment that you weren’t expecting, has an odd file name, or appears to be coming from someone who doesn’t normally send you files, begin searching for other red flags to determine if the email is malicious. Do not open or download the attachment until you have verified with your IT or security resource that the email is not malicious.

A great way to identify if an email is legitimate is to confirm the sender’s address. If you choose “reply to all” you will see the full e-mail address of the sender. As you can see below, this user is not really John Koeberer.

Often Spoofers will try to imitate a company – for example we recently had a user open an e-mail that they thought was from FEDEX, as the sender’s name was “FEDEX Shipping Updates”. If this e-mail was legitimately from FEDEX, the email address would end in, example An example of a spoofed FEDEX e-mail is pictured below – as you can see, the e-mail states it’s from FEDEX, but the actual e-mail address says otherwise.

Please contact the TCPC helpdesk if you have any questions regarding suspicious e-mails!