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How to Identify Phishing Emails (+ Avoid the Fake Boss Email Scam!)

How to Identify Phishing Emails (+ Avoid the Fake Boss Email Scam!)

Phishing emails may seem more like a nuisance, which they are, but they can be a security threat both professionally and personally. Do you know how to recognize a phishing email? Many times these sneaky emails can trick employees into handing over passwords, sensitive data, and even financial information. You may have seen a phishing email called the fake boss email scam.

Today we’ll dive into how to identify phishing emails in general and look more into the fake boss email scam and how to protect yourself and your business from falling victim to phishing emails and cyber crooks.

Common Signs of Phishing Emails

Most phishing emails will have red flags throughout the email, frequently starting with the subject line. Here are the most common characteristics of a phishing email.

  • Perhaps the most common sign of a phishing email is poor spelling and grammar within the body of the email and/or the subject line.  
  • Overly formal or generic greetings such as “Dear” [Person’s Name] or “To Whom It May Concern.”
  • URGENT requests are often typed in ALL CAPS to create more urgency.
  • Questionable sender address that looks legitimate but has misspellings or slight variations, “”.
  • Be extremely cautious if an email contains links or attachments you weren’t expecting.

The Fake Boss Email Scam

The fake boss email scam is a type of phishing attack that cybercriminals use to pose as your boss, a manager, or even CEOs and other C-suite members. These phishing emails will ask for sensitive information, money or wire transfer, and even gift card purchases. Scammers will use social engineering, or the “human loophole,” to get access to sensitive data. These scammers use social engineering to make their requests seem legit, but don’t be fooled! Falling for this scam can have serious consequences, like large financial losses or a compromised network.

What is Social Engineering

Social engineering is influencing, manipulating, or somehow deceiving you to gain access to your personal or business computer. Cybercriminals use social engineering via phone calls, regular mail, and email. In email phishing, a cybercriminal pretends to be someone within the company, a trusted vendor, or even your financial institution.

Tips on How to Identify Fake Boss Phishing Emails

Below you’ll find tips on how to identify these phony boss phishing emails.

  • Always hover over links, don’t click on them. Hovering will show the actual URL, which may reveal a suspicious-looking address.
  • Verify the sender’s email address and that it is legitimate.
  • Look for inconsistencies in the email’s style and tone. Is the grammar bad? Is there slang or unusual language? If the email doesn’t sound like your boss, be suspicious.
  • If the request is of an urgent nature, reach out to the person supposedly making it, but do it through a verified channel.
  • Use tools to filter your incoming emails. These tools can help catch phishing emails before they reach your inbox.
  • Your IT department will update employees about the latest phishing scams and techniques. Always read company updates on scams.

Should You Respond to Suspected Phishing Emails?

If you suspect a phishing email, don’t panic! Here’s what to do:

  • Do not click on any links or download attachments. Doing so could put the business at risk.
  • Report the email to your IT department or email provider. The proper department will block future attempts.
  • Educate yourself about phishing email tactics. Share your knowledge and help fight against scams.

Protecting Your Business from the Fake Boss Email Scam (and Whale Phishing)

  • By being proactive, businesses can get ahead of scammers and cyber-attacks. Follow these steps to have a more secure inbox.
  • Implement security policies and procedures. Strong security measures can help keep your business safe.
  • Educate employees about the scam. Teach your team how to identify phishing emails and how email scams work.
  • Encourage open communication and verification of requests. Foster a culture where it’s okay to ask questions.
  • Add an extra layer of security with multi-factor authentication.
  • Stay ahead of cybercriminals by keeping your software up-to-date and regularly updating and patching software.
  • Be aware of whale phishing. This type of phishing attack targets high-level executives. The level of deception can be hard to detect, so be extra cautious if you’re in a top position or handling sensitive information.

Trust MX Guardian

Now that you know how to identify phishing emails and fake boss scams, it’s time to stay vigilant and proactive in combating these sneaky cyber threats. Remember, phishing tactics are constantly evolving, so it’s crucial to stay up to date. Protect your business from phishing, spam, malware, and other attacks. At MXGuardian, email security is our thing. We not only filter spam and viruses but safeguard your company’s reputation through email continuity, outbound email filtering, and message archiving.

Learn more or try our free 30-day trial. No credit card is required. All features are included, and zero restrictions.  

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