What is Phishing

The University is targeted with counterfeit e-mails on a daily basis. Readers need to be constantly alert to the possibility that an e-mail is not legitimate.

Examples of these faked e-mails include: An e-mail telling us that our account will be suspended unless we click on the included link. A request from a co-worker or boss asking you to do an unusual favour for them right away. A message with an unexpected attached invoice.

These are called Phishing Scams. They work by tricking you into clicking on a link or attachment in the e-mail that infects your machine or takes you to a faked web site that steals your password. Sometimes they want you to reply so the scammer can convince you to do something for them.

Spear Phishing is a scam where the message is customized for a particular person or department. A common spear phishing scam targeting campus is the Gift Card Scam where you’re asked to buy gift cards for your boss and reply back with the activation codes.

In this article:


Spotting a Phishing Scam

The following are some of the typical characteristics of a phishing message:

  • Consider the request in detail. Is this normal or expected behaviour from this person?
  • The message has an unusual sense of urgency, requiring your immediate attention.
  • Check very carefully the sender’s name and email address. Is it what you’re used to seeing?
  • Be warned by spelling errors, bad grammar, odd formatting, or missing signatures.
  • The message asks you to log in or provide personal information to a website.
  • There is an attachment you were not expecting, like an invoice.

Some examples of phishing messages appear at the bottom of this article.

How can you avoid getting hooked by a phishing scam? These are some of the things that you can do:

  • Call the sender to verify. If there's any doubt at all, make a call.
  • If you’re on a mobile device, wait until you’re on a computer so you can check more carefully.
  • Do not reply to or act on unusual or out of character emails. Question urgency.
  • Do not open email attachments or click links in suspicious e-mails. Hover the mouse over the link to reveal the real destination address.

Watch this video on how to avoid taking the bait.

The United Kingdom’s Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure has produced a quiz to test your skill at spotting phishing attempts.

Reporting Suspected Phishing

In the past, users were asked to forward spam and suspected phishing messages to spam@uwindsor.ca - this mailbox has been phased out. Outlook now provides users with the ability to report these messages directly to Microsoft so that they can be analysed by AI and automatically blocked and/or cleaned-up, is they were found to be malicious. For more information, please review the article Managing and Reporting Spam and Phishing Messages in Outlook

Recovering a Compromised Account

What should you do if you were victimised by a phishing scam? The only way to regain control of a compromised UWin Account is to change the password on it. The owner of the account should do this immediately upon learning that the account was compromised. In the event that the owner of the account is unaware that the account was compromised or was locked out (password was changed on the account by people who hacked it), IT Service Desk staff will reset the password on that account to a temporary password and attempt to notify the user.

Examples of Phishing Messages

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Article ID: 68760
Tue 12/11/18 2:45 PM
Fri 6/2/23 11:03 PM

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