Albert Einstein once said, “Logic will get you from A to Z; imagination will get you everywhere.”
Who: The Email Pick-Up Artist
The email scammer is a cybercriminal who creatively uses email to exploit predictable reactions for nefarious reasons. Using plenty of imagination and research to hone their phishing skills, they practice their craft and polish their end product to make it difficult to distinguish their emails from legitimate communications. Their work pays off when you click. That puts the pressure on you, the email recipient, to decipher a scam. The subject is their “pick-up line.” If you don’t determine the con at that level and open the email, your computer may already be infected.
What: Targeting Audiences
Many scammers have come to realize that targeting is far more successful. To hook a fish, the phish-er must use the right bait. One such lure takes advantage of media events by sending emails with specific subject lines relating to the event. Cybercriminals even create landing pages linkable from their emails. In some cases, they are clones of actual sites.
How: The Lines that Work
The cyber world is saturated with email scams attempting to wreak havoc. But the ones that rise to the top are those that are opened because of their subject lines. They may not be earth-shatteringly fresh subject lines, but their under-the-radar nature is what makes them so catastrophic. Take a look at the seemingly benign “winners” from last year. They’re still circulating, so keep your eyes peeled.
Subject Line Blockbusters of 2013*:
1. Invitation to connect on LinkedIn
2. Mail delivery failed: returning message to sender
3. Dear Customer
4. Comunicazione importante
5. Undelivered Mail Returned to Sender
While you’re keeping these subject lines in mind, be aware of any other questionable emails you receive. If you start to get emails after a significant media event that request donations by asking you to click for more information or to find out if you have been affected by the event, delete them immediately. Again, that’s just one example. Cybercriminals’ use of imagination is a powerful tool for luring victims. Utilize your knowledge of phishing scam warning signs to defend yourself against scammers. Question every email before you open it. If you don’t recognize the sender, it shouldn’t matter what the subject line states. *The list was compiled by McAfee.
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