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Don’t Be Fooled by Email Phishing Scams This School Year

Imagine losing close to $12 million. Okay, maybe you don’t have that kind of money to lose, but this is what happened to Alberta’s MacEwen University through an email phishing scam — and we’re not talking about catching dinner.

Three employees made separate money transfers to what they thought was one of the school’s trusted vendors. It turned out to be a meticulously detailed scam that took advantage of the university’s lack of security.

Think you’re safe from these types of attacks because you don’t have that kind of money or information? Think again. These types of attacks target employees of large companies as well as private citizens to extort everything from money and banking information to health records and insurance information.

 Check out the tips below to learn how you can detect a phishing scam before it’s too late.

Trust your instincts

If something doesn’t seem quite right, pause before you take action. Make sure the small details like logos and email addresses are consistent before clicking on any embedded links. Many times, an email pretending to be from your bank will come from an address such as

A good rule of thumb is that if you don’t trust the address or weren’t expecting to receive that email, don’t open it.

Still on the fence as to whether the email is trustworthy or not? If it is a scam, chances are that other people are talking about it online. When a recent phishing scam involving the cell phone service provider Fido was floating around, they alerted customers of the issue through their forums. You can also contact the provider directly to verify whether the email is valid or not.

Red flags

A Nigerian prince needs a loan from you and will pay you back handsomely? Are you the winner of a free all-inclusive cruise? Or maybe there’s a million-dollar jackpot waiting for you and all you need to do is enter your account information?

These are just a few examples of the tricks hackers use to get personal information out of you. Also, keep an eye out for emails that require immediate action, ask for personal information, have web pages that lead you to a dead link, or have poor spelling or sloppy grammar.

Keep a vigilant eye

Don’t rely on your company’s security software to filter out all fake and malicious emails. It happened to MacEwen University, and it can happen to you, too.

Following the attack on their university, school administrative officials admitted to errors on their end and that proper safeguards were not in place to prevent this attack from happening.

On top of the lack of security, officials at MacEwen University didn’t realize anything was wrong until days later when the vendor they thought they had paid called looking for their cheque.

Fortunately, the money was traced to a number of bank accounts, and the university is confident it can recover most of the lost money. That’s why it’s critical to notify IT professionals as soon as possible.

Let us take care of it

At Safe Harbour, we can install the safeguards and protection your company needs to protect you from these types of malicious attacks. It’s not a matter of if you’ll be targeted, but rather when. When that time comes, you can trust that your information is secure with Safe Harbour’s spam and virus protection and security watch program.

Or maybe you’ve already been the victim of an attack. We can help with that too through our remote support team.

Contact us today for a free network assessment.