Cybersecurity Blog

How to create emails that don’t look malicious – 07/26/19


Communicating with everyone on campus is challenging. A lot of work goes into what information should be included, making sure the email is as succinct as possible and making it easy for the readers to act on your request. Unfortunately, we often have these emails reported as phishing emails or they are deleted by readers.

So how do you create an email that makes it easy for the reader to act without making them think you are trying to steal their data? It is a delicate balancing act. Fortunately, there are some guidelines you can follow.

First, make sure that people can verify the legitimacy of the email, by including the name of a contact person at Mount Royal that can be found in the directory. That way if someone is not sure about an email, they can just call the contact person and confirm that the email is legitimate. This is especially important if the email is coming from a third party.

Second, if you are using a tool to track who clicks on what in the email, make sure the URL that appears when you hover over the links looks like a Mount Royal URL.  If you are not sure, contact the IT Service Desk and ask them for help. We can work with your tool vendor to make sure your links look legitimate.

Third, avoid including links if you can. Instead of using links, type out the Mount Royal URL or tell them where on they can find the information.  Stay away from URLs that look vague, are excessively long or do not send readers to a G suite or webpage.  Even better, include the relevant information in the email itself.

Fourth, do not use your personal email address for Mount Royal correspondence. Anything not coming from an official Mount Royal email address will be considered suspicious.

Next, if you are using a tool to send the email make sure that the sender’s email address appears as a legitimate Mount Royal address. If your tool does not allow you to do that, contact the IT Service Desk. We can work with most vendors to fix that.

Lastly, avoid including other phishing red flags in your email such as generic salutations, a sense of urgency, triggering emotions and asking people to do something against established procedures.

By following these simple guidelines you will greatly decrease the chances readers will report or trash your email instead of acting on it. If you are planning on sending out a campus wide email and you aren’t sure if it will get flagged as malicious or not, please contact the IT Service Desk and ask for help. We would be happy to preview the email and let you know if anything needs to be changed.

Happy emailing!!



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