Phishing attacks are designed to steal a person’s login and password details so that cyber criminals can take control of social networks, email and online bank accounts. There has been a significant increase in nasty phishing emails recently. 

The emails look innocuous enough, mostly containing a button to click to display a message, hinting that the message has been encrypted and you need to click to see it. This usually takes you to a page to put in your login details, so you can see the message.

Below is a fairely typical phishing sample email

Typical phising email with link to site

Sounds all too familiar….if you have clicked on the 'Display Message' button in the email the attackers now have your account details and will send out hundreds of emails containing the very same piece of malware, both to your address list and to many others.

And so it goes on…..the first most people are aware of it is when they receive a lot of undeliverable email and find that you can't send any email outside the organisation. 

Here are 3 tips from the Superhighways tech team. 


1. Trust No One 

As the famous X-Files saying from the TV show in the early 90s warns, your best strategy is to trust no one.

And your best defence is to ensure to educate all staff, volunteers and your service users NOT to click on any links or attachments in emails that they are not expecting. These emails might come from someone you email often - but you have to ask yourself - why would they want you to click a button to display an encrypted email?


2. Check It Out

If you think the link/attachment is or might be valid, you can test it before clicking it by using  a couple of sites to confirm your hunch.

To do this without clicking the link, you need to:

  1. Hover over the link or button on the email and use the right click on your mouse.
  2. From the option on this right click menu, choose  “Copy link address”
  3. Then paste the URL into an anti-malware check site. 

The anti-malware check sites we recommend are Kaspersky and Virustotal. Both will verify the link as trustworthy.....or not.

So when you paste the link into either of these two sites, they will confirm or refute your suspicions as you can see from the following screen capture results. Both confirm the site link we checked was a phishing email:


Virustotal results


 Kaspersky results


How to check a link that has been shortened

Bitly is one of a few great services to turn you long links into shortened ones.

So, for example, a link to Kingston Digital Health |Digital Health Navigator Training Programme is a long enough title in itself for a post on social media before you add the link/URL  If you use bitly to shorten the link to the training programme it becomes

So if you are in any doubt about a shortened link you receive in an email, you can use check shortenedd links on this site   CheckShortURL and you could then even put in the expanded link into Kaspersky or Virustotal.


Can I Add Additional Malware Protection to my Outlook/Office 365 Account?

It is possible to introduce additional levels of protection, but there would be an additional charge for the added protection. For example a Microsoft product that could be integrated with Office 365 would be Advanced Threat Protection. The cost would be £1.51 +VAT per email per month  (£18.12 + VAT per email per year).

As you can see this could soon add up if you put it on all your teams's user accounts.  


3. Train everyone in the organisation to recognise a phishing email

We recommend educating everyone in your organisation to be vigilant and aware of the potential of phishing emails.

Especially as it takes time for these protection sites to flag up a maiicious email or site.

In the meantime someone else within the organisation could click on the same email sent to them. Then the the issue is now a real problem because the malware has started to run its programme.