I opened Mail this morning and there, amongst numerous junk emails and a few that were actually real business was one titled “Incoming Fax.” I have to say it looked legitimate. We have a new Xerox copier from which you can scan/fax directly. “Maybe,” I thought, “someone in the office scanned something and sent it to me.”
But then, I realized, “Why would someone in the office scan and fax a document to me when they could just hand it to me?”
I did a quick survey of people who had been at work in the past couple of days and sure enough, no one had scanned an image and sent it to me via the Xerox copier. We quickly realized others in our office had received similar emails. It seemed a good moment to remind everyone never to open an attachment that can’t be verified as legitimately coming from someone they know. It’s even more important not to click on the attachment when it is a .zip file and unzip it. You never know what type of virus may just be unleashed on your internal network.
Security for your digital devices and information is critical in today’s business world. It is each person’s responsibility not to rely on anti-spam software but to be vigilant in protecting not only themselves but their colleagues and the business as well.
In addition to not clicking on an attachment when you can’t verify its origin, here are tips that are easy to implement and can save a load of grief:
- Use virus detection software. It makes sense to protect yourself and to be sure your computer is free of malware and viruses.
- Don’t open emails from people you don’t know.
- When in doubt about an email from someone you do know, click on the sender’s name in the TO field and see if the address really is their complete email address. Any time you’re not sure about the validity of the email, call and ask the person if they had sent you an email.
- When on company time on the company network, take care with what web sites you choose to visit.
As I sat down at my desk after discussing the email with my colleagues at the Emily Post Institute, I breathed a sigh of relief. When I first saw that email my temptation was to open it—it looked so real. But then I had that funny sensation, sort of a nagging feeling in the pit of my stomach that something might be wrong with what I was about to do.
If it turns out the email was legitimate, then there will be a delay until the sender contacts me and asks if I got the image he or she scanned and sent to me. But until then, I’ll be happier knowing I avoided a potential problem for me and my company.
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Patricia Hunt Sinacole is president of First Beacon Group LLC, a human resources consulting firm in Hopkinton. She works with clients across many industries including technology, biotech and medical devices, financial services, and healthcare, and has over 20 years of human resources experience.
Elaine Varelas is managing partner at Keystone Partners, a career management firm in Boston and serves on the board of Career Partners International.
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Peter Post is the author of "The Etiquette Advantage in Business." Email questions about business etiquette to him directly here.
Stu Coleman, a partner and general manager at WinterWyman, manages the firm's Financial Contracting division, and provides strategic staffing services to Boston-area organizations needing Accounting and Finance workforce solutions and contract talent.
Tracy Cashman is Senior Vice President and Partner of the Information Technology search division at WinterWyman. She has 20 years of experience partnering with clients in the Boston area to conduct technology searches in a wide variety of industries and technology.
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