How to Spot a Phishing Attempt

phishing emailing

We would like to remind you of a security threat that is never far away: Phishing. During a phishing attack, a scammer disguises their email to look like a legitimate message from a colleague or company in an attempt to trick you. The goal of the phishing email is to have you click on a link or open an attachment that will ask you for sensitive or confidential information.

Signing up to use two-factor authentication with Duo helps keep your account safe. With Duo, you’ll be protected when somebody attempts to use your account through Okta single sign-on or other Duo-integrated apps (such as a VPN client). You can learn more about Duo and sign up.

Impersonation alerts are another useful feature, available on the Gmail website and in the Gmail apps for iOS and Android. These alerts will help remind you to be vigilant about suspicious emails, but they work best when you’re using your SJSU email account for university-related communication. 

The single best way to protect yourself is to stay vigilant and use common sense. Oftentimes, phishers will impersonate figures of higher authority. But if you ask yourself, “When’s the last time the President emailed me directly?” and the answer is “Never,” that should raise a red flag. If you ask yourself, “I thought the President had better grammar/punctuation/spelling?,” that should raise a red flag. If you see these kinds of suspicious emails, use the Report Phishing feature in Gmail.

Be Aware of Phishing Schemes

  • They ask for confidential personal information or credentials
  • They often threaten immediate penalties for not following their instructions
  • They ask you to reply to an address that isn't associated with SJSU
  • The email provides a link that appears to be a SJSU link, but connects to a different website when it opens in your browser