Phishing, as defined by Merriam-Webster, is a scam by which a user is duped into revealing personal or confidential information which the scammer can use illicitly. Phishing can happen anytime and on any media including but not limited to email, phone calls, and social media. The articles over the next four weeks detail what to look out for when using your favorite devices; and if you have been a victim of a scam, what to do to stop the attack.

1) Email. No matter who you are, you will undoubtedly receive plenty of spam mail; and generally, it is easy to recognize spam just by inspecting the sender and subject line of the email. However, sometimes "scam" mail does fool us. These emails can appear to be from a close friend or family member or even from seemingly secure places like your bank; and so you may be tempted to open them.

In general, just opening the email will not expose you to an attack though if you click on a link that is embedded in the email or open an attachment, you do run the high risk of being hooked. Therefore, in order to avoid that, make sure you hover over links in the email to see where they lead, and do not open any attachments unless you know prior to receipt that the sender is sending an email with attachments.

Scammers will often try to scare you into immediate action with lines such as "Your bank account will be closed if you do not respond immediately"; but remember, stay calm when reading your email and look at it critically. If you are concerned that the email may be legitimate, double check: call the person or company that allegedely sent the email before clicking on any links or attachments. If the email is legit, the sender can acknowledge it telephonically; and if not, it's time to hit the delete button.

Next week we will look at phishing by phone calls.

Written by Becky Pontiff, Student Technician
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