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Phishing email scams? Don’t get caught in the net!

Most of us can say that we’ve received junk or spam email at least once – probably once a day actually. Some are easy to identify as spam while others are designed to literally imitate valid emails that we’ve received previously from an area on campus.

“The bad guys are getting good at social engineering,” said Cheryl Gray, manager, HR Systems and Information. “They are doing their research on companies, using social media, news articles and other information to determine who works at a company, what their email address is, what their position is and with whom they might be communicating. The result is a well-crafted phishing email catered to the recipient.”

With that in mind, ITaP and the HR Data Team would like to remind you to be aware the risk exists and of ways to protect yourself and your information when baited by a phishing email.

It’s important to remember that whether obvious or not, phishing emails have the potential to be dangerous to you personally as well as the University systems.

“Clicking on an embedded link from unfamiliar sources can result in malware or viruses getting into your computer or smartphone,” explained Gray. “This could result in your career account and password being compromised, your email contacts being used to send phishing/scam emails or your computer being disabled due to the malware or virus.”

One way to avoid getting caught in this type of situation is to use your instincts.

“If the email comes from an acquaintance or source that you would typically trust but it just doesn’t seem right, do not simply just hit reply to the email with whatever information was requested in the email,” Gray shared. “Send a separate email or call the individual to verify whether the email is legitimate or not.”

Marshall Lines, desktop support coordinator, ITaP Customer Relations, frequently receives inquiries for computer support, including questions about emails. The sample below outlines his suggestions on how to decipher what you have received. 

Phishing sample of things to look for, click to enlarge Enlarged photo

Other helpful information can be found in ITaP’s recent article on phishing scams.

If at any time you receive an email that you find suspicious, create a new email with the questionable email attached and send it to abuse@purdue.edu so ITaP can work to verify authenticity or set up safety measures to prevent access by a malicious site to your computer’s data.
 
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