• Shalom Baer

Phishing emails: Don’t take the bait

Minot State students, staff, and faculty have recently received phishing emails to their school accounts. Phishing emails are sent by scammers to gather information — usually financial — by prompting the recipient to click on a link.

“It’s usually for quick money, like trying to change your direct deposit information, so when you get your financial aid it would go into their checking account and not yours,” IT Director of Network Services IT Security Officer, Darren Olson said.

The subject and content of these emails vary.

“They’re all totally different. Every day they try something new,” Olson said. “The latest one just says, ‘Are you available?’ and when you reply they’ll say, ‘I can't get to the office right now, but I need you to buy me some iTunes gift cards.’ That alone should set off a few red flags.”

Phishing emails often are often sent from real, trusted addresses.

“It’s usually coming from compromised accounts. It’s a real email, so it’s not necessarily something you can block either,” Olson said. “They’ll hack into somebody’s account, and read the address book, and they’ll send them out to everybody.”

Students should be wary of emails that seem out of the ordinary.

“The key take away is always be suspicious of things in an email. If it’s a link or an attachment, you probably want to look closer to see if it actually came from that person,” Olson said.

If a student receives an email referencing their campus connection account or other sensitive information, they can log into their account through the Minot State website to verify the information in the email.

“Even if it is a link to campus connection, I would suggest not clicking on it and going into the Minot State homepage and click on campus connection and log in that way to make sure that it matches up. We’ll never send you a message saying, ‘click here or your account will be locked’ or ‘get more storage space,’” Olson said.

Students who are concerned about their email accounts being compromised can stop by the IT office on the first floor of Old Main to get help installing the DUO app, which requires authentication from a cell phone to log into their email account. To report a suspicious email, forward it to phishing@minotstateu.edu.

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