No phishing at UofL: Speed IT on how to avoid email scams

April 17, 2017

Taylor SmithPart and parcel to the digital landscape is the existence of fake accounts created for the express purpose of perpetrating fraud. Phishing is a tool used to extract information that can be used to compromise your identity, but fortunately as scammers become more and more sophisticated, IT personnel and spam filters evolve to combat their growing threat.

Taylor Smith, interim director of the Speed IT group, explains fishing as any email, “requesting information that you didn’t prompt. Trying to get information from you, whether it be like your credit card information has changed. Unsolicited information,” adding that the central premise is to “Collect information from you, passwords, usernames, social security numbers. Any kind of identifying information that people can use to steal your identity.”

Recently, the University has been subject to more attacks than usual, the result of may factors.

“Lately, I’ve seen quite a few. It seems like it’s picked up. Central IT, they have their email filters, but you can’t only be proactive with virus stuff. It’s very hard to be proactive. Virus protection is always a step behind, because people are writing new stuff to get around the virus protection,” says T. Smith.

While University IT has a robust spam filter, phishing emails can and do get through from time to time. According to Luke Smith, another member of the Speed IT group, it may relate to any spike in our public visibility. He offers two means to catch potential phishing scams.

“One of which is to stop if from getting to your inbox. The Outlook client itself has some more spam filtering. And UofL also uses URL defense. Any URL that’s embedded in an email, it will change the URL in the email, it will check that site for its legitimacy. From any point in time, someone may blacklist that particular site,” says L. Smith.

The most important factor in staying secure from phishing scams to remain wary of suspicious emails, and to watch for anything that may seem out of place.

“You have to be aware of the context of what you do and what you get on a daily basis. It wouldn’t hurt,” says T. Smith.