Beware of phishing and spam

Help IT outwit cybercriminals.

Joey Rego

Information Technology (IT) services battles phishing and spam campaigns regularly. For every one malicious email that gets through our systems, there are hundreds or thousands we block before they reach your computer. Unfortunately, it's virtually impossible to eliminate phishing. But, with your help, we can eliminate becoming a victim of phishing.

Take a few minutes to read this article, become an email security warrior and help us fight against cybercriminals.

Watch out for these clues

Think twice before opening an email or attachment, especially if you notice any of the red flags listed below.

Email attachments: According to Verizon’s 2017 Data Breach Investigations Report, 66 percent of malware installations involve email attachments.

Poor spelling and grammar: Professional organizations edit and proofread their correspondence. If an email is full of mistakes or seems odd, it’s unlikely that it came from a large and reputable company.

Hyperlinks in email: If an email includes a hyperlink, proceed carefully—especially if the email is from someone you don’t know. Hover over the link to check whether the web address matches the link text (the words you would click on). If they aren't similar, don’t click the link. Doing so could launch a program that may install malware on your computer.

A sender’s address that doesn’t match the name: You may receive an email that appears to be from a particular person—even someone at Lynn—but the email address isn’t correct. For example, the "From" field could include a legitimate name of someone you know, but the return email address may seem odd or made up. For more tips on identifying spoofed emails, read Identify suspicious messages in and Outlook on the web.

Request for payment or login information: No Lynn department will ask you to send payment or login information via email. If you receive such a request, do not respond—contact IT.

Threats: Some cybercriminals threaten to shut down your account or claim to know your passwords. If you receive threats like this, immediately change your password to a strong, complex one. Then notify IT.

Spoofing well-known companies: Cybercriminals may paste a company’s logo or other branding into an email—or into their fake website—to convince you the message or site belongs to the trusted organization. Even if an email or site includes such graphics, look carefully at the text and any links.

Too good to be true: An email may have a subject line like “Urgent Opportunity!!!” The message may appear to be from a address, and the body of the message may promise that you can make thousands of dollars in your spare time.

Lookalike web addresses: Phishing emails may include a link to a website whose address is almost the same as a legitimate, known website’s—with a different extension (.io instead of .com, for example) or a slightly different spelling.

Inaccuracies: Like spelling and grammar mistakes, these errors reveal that the sender isn’t legitimate. Maybe the zip code in Lynn’s mailing address is one digit off. Maybe the writer claims to be from the “Job Placement and Student Services Department” at Lynn. (No, it doesn’t exist!)

Keep alert for these clues so you can help protect yourself and Lynn. For more tips, go to Protect yourself online.

Report phishing emails using the Proofpoint Essentials plug-in for Outlook. Contact IT at ext. 7979 if you don’t have this plug-in.

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