How savvy are you at spotting email phishing scams? Take the quiz

written by Cathy McVey, IT services

In the past week at least three separate serious phishing attacks were reported to IT services by Miami faculty or staff. Beware: Don’t click on links of suspicious emails.

These emails appeared to be from the Libraries, IT services and iTunes. Each warned the recipient that if they did not take immediate action some account or service would be unavailable.

These are all classic phishing emails, sent by cyber criminals seeking to gain access to your account and/or your confidential information. These attacks are timely, as October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month.

Take the McAfee Phishing Quiz

To help tune your phishing recognition skills, try taking the McAfee Phishing Quiz to see if you can beat the averages.

Did you know that in an international survey by McAfee as few as 60 percent of respondents were able to correctly identify which of 10 sample messages were phishing attacks?  Attacks began as early as 1995, and successful phishing attacks are often the “foot in the door” for hackers to pull off massive data breaches like the publicized loss of credit card data by Target that compromised thousands of accounts.

How can you protect yourself against phishing? In this case, the human factor is most often the weakest link. Phishing depends on people’s inherent wish to be helpful and to trust others. They also often include an element of urgency. They claim that you’ll lose your email access in 24 hours if you don’t respond, tricking you into acting without thinking about the request.

Legitimate businesses will never ask for your password

Never assume any request for information is legitimate, unless you are 100 percent sure of the source of the request. Legitimate businesses will never ask for your password or username. Like many other scams, if an offer is too good to be true, it probably is not.

The most effective way to avoid becoming a phishing victim is to be smart and never trust email from an unknown or unexpected source. Don’t click on the links in suspicious emails. Learn to identify phishing messages. Ask questions if you are not sure. The IT services support desk can help you be the one who “got away” from the phish.