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Phishing Email Alert

Published: Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Our campus has experienced a large influx of phishing attempts and an increasing number of campus users are having their emails compromised as a result.  It is urgent that we pay very close attention to the emails we receive and how we respond. Phishing scams are one of the fastest growing internet crimes. Cyber criminals use phishing to steal personal information such as account usernames and passwords, social security or credit card numbers. In a typical scam, the cyber criminal sends an email, SMS, or voice message with the intent to impersonate a person or business that is familiar.  In most cases the emails will say they are from someone within NCCU or even ITS.

Each time you communicate on the Internet or browse a website, there are opportunities for spammers to intercept your communications. These communications can then be used to obtain your email address and other personal information. 

It is important that you know that reputable companies may sell or exchange your email address with other companies, and this information may eventually find its way to a spammer. At worst, spammers will use automated programs to bombard these lists of email addresses with spam. Consider the following guidelines to keep your account safe:

  • NEVER send your password via email. Creditable companies should only offer to reset your password and they do not need to know your password to reset it.
  • Every time you are asked for your email address verbally or on paper, think carefully about whether or not you want to receive any information from that company or organization. It is usually best to decline to provide your email address.
  • Always use a strong password.
  • Change your password frequently.
  • Subscribe only to essential discussion lists, and ensure that they are moderated.
  • Don't enter passwords in applications that are unsecure (secure websites will have a prefix of HTTPS).
  • Whenever possible, advocate that organizations you are involved in or do business with default to the opt-in option. This requires you to specifically request to be added to their email lists, rather than the opt-out model, where they add you email lists automatically, and then give you the option of asking to be removed.
  • Keep operating systems and third-party software (Flash, Adobe Reader, MS Office, Internet Explorer, Firefox) up-to-date.
  • Don't install illegitimate software.
  • Don’t use admin credentials for daily tasks (checking email, browsing web).

Items to check for that indicate spam:

  • Sender Authenticity. (i.e. nccuits@gmail.com or helpdesk@gmail.com) If the sender is someone you don't know, outside of your organization or if the email is not one used by that specific organization, the email can be considered suspicious.
  • Examine Hyperlinks. When hovering over a hyperlink a link should appear showing where it is directing your page towards. If the link is not going to the page it says it is, if the link is a bunch of random numbers and letters or if the link looks as if it is going to a page on the correct website but has additional text that wouldn't normally be there.
  • Threatening or Rewarding Language. Never do something because you are threatened over the internet or if the sender attempts to entice you with a reward. This is often the first attempt at grabbing your attention and is usually a clear sign of phishing. You will not get locked out of any of your accounts if you do not give someone your information.
  • Attachments. Never open anything in a suspicious looking email. Attachments have the potential to be carrying viruses and or malware which are harmful to your machine.

ITS Tip: NCCU ITS will never request your password or personal information via email. You should never divulge your password to anyone.

For more information regarding spam and phishing visit the link below:

http://www.nccu.edu/knowledgebase/faq.cfm?id=16

If you would like to report any spam messages, please visit the following Knowledge Base article for steps: http://www.nccu.edu/knowledgebase/faq.cfm?id=261


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