If it smells phishy...
..then it probably is. A little trite but true, however developing a nose for "phishiness" can save you a major headache.
The good/bad news is, this is a skill you'll have plenty of chances to develop because phishing is not going away. In fact, it's on the rise as phishing scams have become big business. According to a recent report by the Anti-Phishing Working Group (APWG), "Crimeware-spreading URLs infecting PCs with password-stealing code rose 93 percent in Q1, 2008 to 6,500 sites, nearly double the previous high of November, 2007 - and an increase of 337 percent from the number detected end of Q1, 2007."
Universities have also been specifically targeted. A September 17, 2008 story on ZDNet, Targeted malware attack against U.S. schools intercepted, cybercriminals often wait for key times, such as the beginning of a school year, to launch their attacks. Brown, along with other schools, was hit with a barrage of emails from the " EMAIL SUPPORT TEAM" or ".EDU webmail" asking that readers provide personal information like their user name and password, and threatening to "immediately render your email address deactivated from our database" if the recipient didn't respond promptly.
Fortunately, most spam reaching Brown's central mail servers is quarantined so you don't see most of the phishing emails. However, if you receive email elsewhere or want to manage spam that may get past the Proofpoint filter, your email program's junk email filter can be configured to move or delete messages based on selected criteria. For tips on setting up a junk email filter, consult the Help section of your email program as well as the Email documentation pages.
Phishing doesn't just arrive in your InBox. You can receive phishing solicitations via phone, snail mail, or on the street. The best advice is simply: 1. Be wary 2. Stay vigilant 3. Use common sense.
We have assembled a page full of tips and tutorials in our Phishing Primer. Please check it out. The sanity you save may be your own!
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