We have been noticing an increase in targeted phishing attacks coming into different departments around campus. These emails might appear to come from your supervisor or department head and want to know if you’re available. If you respond, they’ll usually ask you to do something like purchase gift cards and email them the numbers on the back. The attacker will almost always use the excuse that they are in a meeting and can’t talk by phone. They don’t want you to call your supervisor to verify what they need. They are trying to steal money from you or from the university.
Here are a few key indicators that might help you spot these fraudulent messages.
1) External Sender Notification
Any emails that come from outside our organization will have this big red banner above the message warning you that this is not an ATU contact. If your supervisor or department head seems to be emailing you and this banner appears, it is highly likely that the message is not legitimate. I know we have a tendency to skip over this red banner because we see it often, but we must train ourselves to be aware of that banner when we think we’re dealing with someone we know.
2) Check the Email Address
Often times, the attacker will try to impersonate your manager or department head to get you to take notice. Who ignores an email from their boss, right? But you should always double check the email address the communication actually came from. Outlook will show the senders name and an email address beside it if the message is not from an ATU account. It can be a little bit trickier on a mobile device. They usually just display the sender’s name, but if you tap on the name, you should find the email address. This should always end in @atu.edu for ATU contacts.
If you are ever in doubt about a message like this, pick up the phone and call the sender to see if they really need something from you. If you can confirm that the email is fraudulent, simply delete it a move on with your day.
We hope these tips will help you be a bit more secure with your email and the university’s resources. If you have any questions or need assistance identifying an email, contact the Campus Support Center at firstname.lastname@example.org or 479.968.0646.