Scams are quickly taking on new forms online. Email as a popular means of communication is also often the focus of criminals. But what exactly makes secure emails? These are the four biggest misconceptions.

In Germany alone, around 83 percent of Germans used email in December 2023. 20 years ago it was only 44 percent.

But despite the large number of users, there are still widespread misconceptions when it comes to secure emails. The Federal Office for Information Security (BSI) warns against these security errors.

The biggest misconceptions about secure email

Email has a relatively good reputation when it comes to security. But some pitfalls can also await users in their email inbox.

There are always strong warnings against opening attachments in spam emails. According to the BSI, one of the most common misconceptions is that nothing can happen if you only open the email – but not the attachment.

Unfortunately, this is not the case, as many emails are now sent in HTML format. In contrast to pure text messages, HTML emails contain source code and malicious code could be hidden here. This is then executed when the email is opened and thus reaches the recipients' devices.

According to the BSI, replying to such spam emails also poses risks. However, it is a common misconception that it is safe to respond to spam emails.

As soon as you as the recipient respond to such an email, the sender knows that your address is valid and active. The result is an even higher volume of unwanted emails, i.e. spam, in the email inbox.

The BSI recommends ignoring these messages and deleting them immediately – ideally without even opening them.

Check the sender's address

Verifying your Abendder address is popular advice for using email safely. But the BSI warns against lulling yourself into a false sense of security.

Because it only takes a small amount of effort to fake the sender addresses of emails. The source text of the email could provide information here. The path of the email can be traced in the lines marked “Received From”. But some of these are now being manipulated by criminals.

Secure email and the problem with phishing

Phishing emails are designed to obtain people's login details. Be it for online shops or online banking, but also for email accounts or other services on the Internet.

Particularly popular with criminals are alleged emails from PayPal or Amazon, in which recipients are asked to follow a link.

However, the misconception that phishing emails are easy to recognize is a big problem. Because the presentation of these emails can be deceptively real. And the links usually lead to websites that are very similar to the original.

Here it is worth taking a look at the header of the email, which was already mentioned in error three, where the full sender address can be seen. Even the smallest deviations from the providers' original email addresses can provide information about attempted fraud.

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