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As expected, now that Windows 10 is out and a free upgrade for many users, there are huge numbers of emails being sent out trying to trick PC users into applying for the “free upgrade”. Instead, those users who click on the inviting link risk having their PC or data locked with a vicious piece of malware, which will only release the PC or data after a ransom is paid.

While tens of millions of users have legitimately upgraded for free in the first few days since the new operating system became available, there are still plenty of PC users and office workers unaware of the valid ways to upgrade who could fall prey to these scams.

This threat can be mitigated through email hosting, with enterprise grade spam filters keeping this and similar threats out of the worker email accounts. However, educating users against the threats posed by unsolicited offers is also essential, as many PC users are not aware of the threats against their machines or data. Similar emails may focus on celebrity gossip, free offers and other temptations to get those unaware of the risks clicking a dubious link.

Fortunately, most of these Windows 10 emails have spelling issues and peculiar characters in them which should alert most users. However, they do look sufficiently like a Microsoft email to confuse the unwary. Business users can only get Windows 10 upgrades as part of their volume licence, while users of Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 will have an app encouraging them to upgrade.

Email hosting should act as part of a wider internet security strategy. This will help prevent other types of malware from infecting your business PCs, and keep hackers and intruders out who may be after your business data, customer lists, credit card databases and other digital valuables.

While the volume of spam email is actually falling, as the fraudsters switch to other methods, there is always a spike around popular technology launches or major world events. So, a friendly but to-the-point reminder to all staff is always worth sending out around these times to warn them of the dangers of spam, malware and other threats.