Students may be noticing an increasing amount of email scams. Such scam emails are sent out in order to obtain personal information under false pretenses; this is known as phishing.
One example of the scams circulating Eastern Michigan University include warning the student that their account will be locked until they sign in; when the sign-in link is clicked on, it takes you to a page that is identical to the my.emich.edu log-in page. Panicking because they think their account is disabled, students will log in to the seemingly official EMU site, thus giving hackers access to their account.
According to a source from the I.T. department, hackers send out these phishing emails to manipulate students into giving them personal information. Even just giving the hacker your email password can lead them into getting more serious information on you, such as your bank account information. Not only will they steal your information, but they will use your email to send out mass messages to try to ‘phish’ others. This source reports that these email blasts can consist of up to 80,000 emails coming from your account.
Despite emails sent from I.T. warning students of these email scams and posters in computer labs across campus cautioning students to create complex passwords and keep them private, students do not really see phishing as a looming threat.
Laith Quasem, an EMU senior, said the phishing emails are not something he is necessarily worried about. While he describes himself as the opposite of technologically savvy, Quasem said he finds it is easy to spot a phishing email.
“You grow accustomed to what the [official] Eastern Michigan emails look like, so when you receive something that seems slightly off, you just know,“ he said.
When Quasem sees what he believes is a phishing email, he said he immediately deletes it and carries on with his day.
He does recognize that it is sometimes tricky to conclude whether or not an email is official or not. “It irritates me that these people [hackers] try to take advantage of other people who are more ignorant with technology and assume it is from a real, authentic entity,“ Quasem said.
Quasem said he believes I.T. Security has a responsibility to do something to prevent these kinds of malicious emails from reaching students. However, "they can only do whatever is in their power.” He said he believes if there is no way to stop it from the root, then the mass email sent to the student population is an appropriate preventative measure.
While it seems that the average college student has a good eye on dodging the phishing emails, it is important for everyone at EMU, including staff and faculty, to be more vigilant when going through their inbox.
Remember that if you are ever doubting whether or not an email is real, always check the sender’s address first. As the Division of Information Technology advised, real companies and other legitimate organizations will never have Yahoo or Hotmail addresses. They also advise to never click on unfamiliar links in emails and to never send out any personal information through email.