Don't Let a Phishing Scam Reel You In

Esther Silver's picture

The link to the quiz is at the end of the article. Everyone who passes wins a prize! 

Cybercriminals use phishing—a type of social engineering—to manipulate people into doing what they want. Social engineering is at the heart of all phishing attacks, especially those conducted via e-mail. Technology makes phishing easy. Setting up and operating a phishing attack is fast, inexpensive, and low risk: any cybercriminal with an e-mail address can launch one. Phishing scams, in general, continue to grow, with new methods and even greater impacts. Knowing what you're up against can help you be more secure. Here are a few things you can do to guard against phishing attacks:

  • Limit what you share online.  The less you share about yourself, the smaller the target you are for a phishing attack. Cybercriminals use information you post online to learn how to gain your trust.
  • Protect your credentials.  No legitimate company or organization will ask for your username and password or other personal information via e-mail. The University definitely won't.
  • Beware of attachments.  E-mail attachments are the most common vector for malicious software. When you get a message with an attachment, delete it unless you are expecting it and are absolutely certain it is legitimate. If you’re not sure, call the sender at a number you know is legitimate to check.
  • Confirm identities.  Phishing messages can look official. Cybercriminals steal organization and company identities, including e-mail addresses, logos, and URLs that are close to the links they're trying to imitate. There's nothing to stop them from impersonating the university, financial institutions, retailers, a wide range of other service providers, or even someone you know.
  • Trust your instincts.  If you get a suspicious message that claims to be from an agency or service provider, use your browser to manually locate the organization online and contact them via the website, e-mail, or telephone number that you looked up – not what was provided in the message.
  • Check the sender.  Check the sender's e-mail address. Any correspondence from an organization should come from an organizational e-mail address. A notice from your college or university is unlikely to come from [email protected].
  • Take your time.  If a message states that you must act immediately or lose access, do not comply. Phishing attempts frequently threaten a loss of service unless you do something. Cybercriminals want you to react without thinking; an urgent call to action makes you more likely to cooperate.
  • Don't click links in suspicious messages.  If you don't trust the e-mail (or text message or post), don't trust the links in it either. Beware of links that are hidden by URL shorteners or text like "Click Here." They may link to a phishing site or a form designed to steal your username and password.
  • Delete or forward potential phishing. If you believe you have received a phishing message, but have NOT clicked the link or opened the attachment, please either delete the email or forward it to the IT Service Desk at 
  • Report successful phishing. If you click on a phishing link or receive a phone call AND then provide your username and password, immediately change your password and call the IT Service Desk at 415-514-4100 to report that your account has been compromised. If needed, the IT Service Desk can help you change your password.

Take the quiz on this Article. Everyone who passes wins a prize!!  This month's prize is Swedish Fish to remind everyone to not let a phishing scam reel you in!

Swedish Fish Candy

One person will also be selected for the grand prize: a PacSafe.Com secure backpack.

Additional Information

Protect UCSF and Myself from Phishing and Other Scams

Properly protect my computer from Ransomware

Ransomware Rising: Putting Our Files at Risk

UC’s Important Security Controls for Everyone and All Devices