Phishing Attacks Tend to Target College Campuses at The Semester Start
The start of the school year is a stressful time on college campuses. Freshmen are trying to get settled, returning students are shaking off the dust from the summer, and even the faculty is trying to straighten out their schedules and get ready for the rush of learning that’s going to go on. Everyone is under a lot of pressure, and utter chaos can reign for weeks on end.
Which is why, according to a notice from North Carolina State University, students need to be particularly aware of phishing scams aimed at them during these difficult days.
Tis The Season For Phishing Attacks
In order for phishing attacks to be successful they need to be able to fool the intended audience into thinking the phisherman is a legitimate source of authority. While college students tend to be quite tech savvy as a group, having grown up surrounded by everything from wireless Internet to smartphones, they’re still vulnerable to attack.
One reason is the whirlwind of activity that comes with settling into a new semester. Students are fielding a huge amount of emails, moving into new dorms and apartments, getting their schedules, and making sure all their information is in order. All it takes is one phishing email to make it through the spam filter, and for a harried student to click a link, or fill out a form, without looking too closely at the sender or address. Even if only 1 out of every 100 emails hooks someone, that’s still a lot of stolen information from even a small college campus.
College students are ideal targets for phishing attacks in other ways, as well. For example, many students are just getting out on their own for the first time. This means they may lack the real-world skills to spot a well-constructed phishing scam, particularly if they’re worried that it might turn out to be true. After all, if a college freshman who is stressing about his first semester gets an email that says he needs to respond in order to actually attend classes, he may start shooting off his personal information out of fear before he can stop and think about the message itself.
Professors and staff members aren’t immune to phishing scams, either. Just as there are students trying to settle in, and making sure all their paperwork is in order, so too are staff members trying to make sure all the necessary data is being processed in a timely fashion. All it takes is one missed email for a phishing scam to get into the network, and once it’s there it can spread like wildfire.
Avoiding Phishing Attacks on Campus
Many of the techniques for avoiding phishing scams in general will serve college students well. Never give out any personal information, always check the sender’s email address, and examine any links before clicking them. It’s also particularly important for college students to contact campus offices regarding notices that claim there’s something wrong, or that they have to fill out a particular online form. If the form is legitimate, students lose nothing by double-checking. If the request for information is a scam, though, then notifying the campus offices can help get the word out about the phishing attack. Once the campus is aware that someone is trying to phish the students’ personal information, the college can put out a notice warning students not to answer certain emails, and to avoid giving out the information in question.
Always report phishing activity, because if you speak up that could save someone who didn’t see the hook. For more information on current risks, and how to keep yourself safe, simply contact us today!