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Phishing Season Never Ends

Last year, IT Systems Specialist Jerry Ranum and helped roll out an anti-Phishing campaign to NDSU employees to protect them from fraudulent emails. After the campaign rolled out, we measured a sizable decrease in the number of people who "fell" for phishing emails. Unfortunately, scammers will always be one step ahead of us and try to take advantage of those who don't act safe online. Although the official anti-phishing campaign is over in terms of measuring, it's never really over because we need to remain vigilant against scammers. Just recently, an Extension colleague forwarded me a suspicious looking email and asked if it was a "scam".

The email had an attachment and asked her to open it because it said she was getting money deposited into her bank account. I'm glad she asked me first instead of falling for it because I determined it to be a phished email because it displayed the following red flags:

  • Has an attachment. Were you expecting this attachment from this sender? If not, it's suspicious. Always be careful in opening attachments, especially if you don't know the sender or aren't expecting the email.
  • Addressed to "Dear Customer". Professional Marketers often take the time and have the software to use personal greetings.
  • A promises of a cash deposit to entice you to open the attached PDF. Who wouldn't want an unexpected deposit? Avoid the temptation to click on the attachment.
  • Not signed by a particular person or group and there's no phone number to call with questions. Anonymity doesn't belong in email.

Screenshot below of the actual email:

Sue M phishing screenshot

I'm glad the colleague hesitated to click on the attachment. If you get a suspicious looking email, the NDSU ITS Help Desk can help you decide if it's a phished email. Or if it's obviously a phish, please report it to .

, Web Technology Specialist, 701-231-6403
, IT Systems Specialist, 701-231-6395

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