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Phishing Examples

Here are a few examples of emails I’ve received that were supposedly from various people at the WSU IT Helpdesk (which does not exist by that name). All of these are phishing attempts. Never click on a link inside these messages. WSU IT Support will never send you an email requiring you to click to verify account information, especially with a hidden URL. WSU will never ask for your password or other personal information via email. For more information about phishing visit https://security.wsu.edu/phishing/.

Typical features to look for:

  • Grammatical or spelling errors
  • Odd wording including impersonal or awkward greetings
  • Some kind of ultimatum or threat issued to make you act quickly without thinking
  • Message or link in ALL CAPS (gives the feeling of being yelled at)
  • No recipient name or name other than yours
  • Fake URL – official WSU websites and email addresses always end in wsu.edu.
  • Email is missing a signature and/or contact information from the sender.
  • WSU DOES NOT request credentials via email

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(Notice that each indicates the email was forwarded to abuse@wsu.edu – which you should do for each one you receive.)

Here’s something that recently came in. It looks to be from the IT desk closing out a support ticket that you don’t remember submitting. Although that is the first thing that should raise your suspicion about it being fake, there are several other items that should tip you off to it being a scam. Below, I have a side-by-side comparison of a questionable email (left) and a real email (right). There are a few more problems with the fake than what I’ve pointed out. Can you spot them? Take a look:

OK, here’s another example. Can you detect the suspicious content?

What’s your first clue?

  • You didn’t request a name change.
  • We don’t have something called “university electronic resource.”
  • Anything you submit to it.support is assigned a “ticket #” – not a case ID
  • Embedded link to change your request instead of telling you to go to the support page to check/change your ticket status.
  • The closing salutation: ours won’t say “Best Regards”
  • What the heck is Information Technology and Emerging Technologies/ Information and HIPAA Security?
  • HWCOM???

There are more odd items in this email, but I’ll let you see if you can spot them. The bottom line here is that if you get some sort of email claiming to be in response to something you requested – that you don’t recall or know you didn’t do – it is most likely fake. If in doubt forward it to abuse@wsu.edu and ask them to verify if it’s real.

Netflix Phishing

I’ve pointed out a few key items to notice. Can spot other clues?