Phishing emails are an attempt by scammers to obtain Internet account usernames and passwords by posing as legitimate websites.
Phishing attacks are becoming harder and harder to detect, as hackers have begun using email addresses, fake websites and subtle redirects that are almost identical to the real thing.
Criminals aren’t the only ones taking advantage of these techniques. According to a recent CNN report, China has been implicated in nearly one in three computer attacks, many targeted at the U.S. Department of Defense.
Eastern Michigan University has offered ways for its students to defend themselves against possible attacks.
As detailed in an email sent by the Chief Information Officer at EMU, Carl Powell, to the EMU community, things to watch out for
Generic greetings: “Phishing emails are usually sent in large batches. To save time, Internet criminals use generic names like ‘First Generic Bank Customer’ so they do not have to individually type all recipients’ names. If you do not see your name, be suspicious.”
Forged links: “Even if a link has a name you recognize somewhere in it, it doesn’t mean it links to the real organization. Hover your mouse over the link to have your browser display the full [universal resource locator] and see if it matches what appears in the email. If there is a discrepancy, do not click on the link.
Also, websites where it is safe to enter personal information begin with ‘https’ [the ‘s’ stands for secure]. If you do not see https, do not proceed.”
Requests for personal information: “The point of sending a phishing email is to trick you into providing your personal information. If you receive an email requesting your personal information, it is probably a phishing attempt.”
A sense of urgency: “Internet criminals want you to provide your personal information now. They do this by making you think something has happened that requires you to act fast. The faster they get your information, the faster they can move on to another victim.”
If a student believes that he or she has been targeted by a phishing scam, they should immediately call the EMU IT Help Desk at 734-487-2120 and change any passwords associated with the account.
For more information, students may access the EMU IT website at www.emich.edu/it.
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