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That Email ‘Caution’ Notice

As a corporate or non-profit user, you may have noticed that more and more emails from outside your system are being tagged with cautionary notices about where they were generated and what to be wary of. It’s the latest step in the evolution of email, which remains a key conduit for scammers and schemers.

The message typically reads: CAUTION: This email originated from outside of the organization. Do not click links or open attachments unless you recognize the sender and know the content is safe. Additionally, many companies have added EXTERNAL to the subject line of inbound emails from outside their organizations.

Both steps are designed to get attention to make sure that email recipients pause before clicking on a link or opening an attachment. Links and attachments are two pathways used to plant malicious software on computers, and they take advantage of lapses in attention or the lack of email policies and employee training.

We have found the external and caution notices are effective steps for many of our commercial and non-profit clients, although Microsoft still needs to develop a few tweaks to make the system less annoying to be more effective.

The annoying part is that within some systems, the tag is being applied to emails sent within an internal system. The message is not only false, but it also upsets the rhythm of working with email and could generate missteps when employees aren’t paying close attention to their work. Some organizations have deemed them good enough reasons to shut off the notifications.  

If you have disabled the tags, we urge you to re-enable them. We can help you write the rules through the custom tools of Outlook’s administrative functions to make sure they function properly and promote workplace efficiency.

You can also increase email security and workplace productivity by training workers to handle email more efficiently. I follow my own advice here. Typically, as soon as I open my email, I do a quick scan to get rid of garbage. I don’t pass over it; I delete it. There’s simply no reason to keep unopened messages – messages you’ll never open – on your system. It clogs up your system when you need to search for past emails, and there’s always a chance someone will open one by mistake and click a link or download a file with malicious content.

We also recommend setting up a folder system for emails. Folders can help you or employees search for specific messages more quickly, and they can help us find and isolate messages that might contain threats to your IT systems.

Again, we can help you write rules to add and manage notices to email coming into your system from the outside, and we can help you set up organizational policies and train people to better use email folders. Call us – 973-433-6676 – or email us to talk about your needs.