Phishing attempts come in many forms and are often made to look like requests from known vendors or associates. Most of these attempts have links that forward victims to nefarious websites in an effort to collect passwords and personal or confidential information; however, some may simply try to initiate a dialogue, which ultimately ends with them asking for unrecoverable items like gift cards or electronic transfers.
When people provide account information to cybercriminals, it negatively affects school business. For example, once an internet provider detects that an LBCC account is generating a substantial number of phishing emails, all outbound email is blocked. This means that external recipients, including students, no longer receive communication from the District.
Never supply your login credentials (user ID and password) or personally identifiable information in response to an email.
How to Report a Phishing Email
If you suspect that you received a phishing email but did not click on any links, open any attachments, or respond to it:
- Forward a copy of the original email as an attachment to firstname.lastname@example.org, and
- Delete the email
Otherwise, if you suspect that you have fallen victim to a phishing attempt or inadvertently provided your password to an unauthorized source:
- Reset your password immediately
- Call the ITS HelpDesk at x4357 and give specific details of the event, and
- Forward a copy of the original email as an attachment to email@example.com.
If you’ve fallen victim to internet fraud, make sure to report it.
Social Engineering and Phishing
In technology, the term social engineering is used to describe the use of deception to lure people into revealing personal and/ or confidential information with the intent of using that information for fraudulent purposes. Social engineering spans various modes of communication and is often used to target specific groups.
Phishing is a form of social engineering that uses email and often includes more focused schemes such as spear-phishing (appears to be from someone you know), and whaling (high-value targets such as executives). Other forms include vishing (over the phone) and smishing (via phone texts).
Indicators of a Phishing Attempt
Most phishing attempts include more than one of the following:
- Suspicious Sender Address
The From address typically contains an email address you do not recognize or is something similar to a real organization but looks odd enough to warrant suspicion.
- Suspicious Links
Before clicking on anything, hover your mouse over each link to display the real hyperlink. If it is unrecognizable or looks suspicious, do not click on it.
An email may ask you to open attachments that, in turn, contain buttons or links to perform the action specified in the email (access a document, change your password, etc.). Do not open an attachment that you are uncertain of, especially if it’s a type of document you do not recognize.
Many phishing attempts use threats or create a sense of urgency. For instance, it may stipulate that your account will be terminated, suspended, expire, etc., so you need to reset your password or verify your account information. Do not respond to threats or pressure tactics — legitimate businesses do not use these tactics.
- Poor Spelling and Bad Grammar
While legitimate organizations typically have copy editors to prevent low-quality emails, cyber-criminals are known for poor spelling and bad grammar.
- Website Spoofing
Some phishing attempts include the look and feel of commonly known vendors and services (PayPal, Office 365, etc.) but there are usually significant visual differences. When in doubt, go directly to the real website instead of using the link.
Examples of Phishing Attempts
Norton antivirus provides a few visual examples to help you identify phishing attempts. With that in mind, be aware that perpetrators have used the Long Beach City College logo against employees in an attempt to lure victims.
Remember, if the email content, from address, link destination, or URL of the website looks questionable, do not click, use, or reply. Simply forward a copy of the email as an attachment to firstname.lastname@example.org, and ITS will look into it.
Phishing Decision Tree
Proofpoint, a leading cybersecurity company, has shared Practical Advice for Avoiding Phishing Emails in the form of a decision tree to help users verify unknown emails.
Videos on Phishing
What Is Phishing And How Can I Protect Myself? (2:28)
Video courtesy of AARP.
- Higher Education Information Security Council (HEISC): Information Security Awareness Video: “Phishing:E-Safe” (1:02)
- Federal Communications Commission (FCC): Spoofing, Scamming, and Crackdown on Unwanted Calls (0:58)
- Federal Trade Commission (FTC): Hang Up and Report Phone Fraud (3:07)
Common Types of Phishing Scams
Phishing is used to facilitate a variety of imposter scams. According to the Federal Trade Commission, victims are now losing billions of dollars each year to these types of scams.
- Gift Card Scams
- Fake Check Scams
- Phone Scams
- Tax Scams
- Tech Scams
- Other Common Scams
Online Phishing Quizzes
Test your newly acquired skills by taking one or more of the following:
- Cisco OneDNS’s Phishing Quiz.
- Phishing Quiz with Google.
- SonicWall’s Phishing IQ Quiz.
- Infographic: Phishing, Don’t Take the Bait.
- Cheat Sheet: Social Engineering Red Flags
- How to Recognize and Avoid Phishing Scams