Are your automatic email replies putting you at risk?

What may seem like a courteous, polite notice to let others know you’re not available could be used against you. Cybercriminals might be looking out for these types of notices, because it gives them a chance to spoof you while you’re gone. There’s also a lot of sensitive information that potential threat actors could use to harm you.

If you put that you’re on holiday or away at a conference, criminals will know that you’re not at home or in the office. This isn’t just a digital or cybersecurity issue, but a real world issue. Supposing you’re not at home, and the person in question knows where you live, it’d be easier for them to rob you.

You may also be inadvertently giving social engineers access to your internal chain of command by referring them to another person in your absence. This could tip off a criminal who knows just what to say in order to impersonate a supervisor, boss or HR.

Having an away message set up to the public also lets spammers known that your email is valid. Thus, you can expect to be added to spam lists as a live address.

There are a few different remedies and ways you can mitigate risks when away from your desk:

  • Use phrases like “unavailable”, which gives out less specific information
  • Refrain from putting phone numbers and personal emails in your message
  • Don’t put your signature information into an auto-reply that goes out to strangers

If you utilize Outlook and need to switch your settings, Microsoft’s website shows you step-by-step how to set automatic office replies. Within these settings you can specify responding to people only in your organization or contact lists.

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