What are phishing emails?

Phishing emails are emails sent by spammers and cyber criminals in order to harvest sensitive information such as financial, personal and login information. Phishing emails are a type of social engineering cyber-attack. The attackers will do their best to structure the email as coming from either a friendly familiar source or a source of authority (your supervisor, your IT department etc…) and request you to provide information in either a response or follow a link embedded in the email to a malicious site. In either case, they are after our private and confidential information.

How do you identify whether an email is a phishing email?

  • Watch for the general language. Most phishing attacks come from non-English speaking countries. Many of the emails will have broken English and non-American style language.
  • Check the email source address: Emails from IT will always come from a verified @bridgeport.edu address. Though spammers can find ways to spoof source email addresses, many of them will not do a perfect job. Please notice in the image below, although the email appears to come from ubmailsystemadmin@bridgeport.edu, you will notice that the real address where the email is coming from is blm6@buffalo.edu which is a compromised email account of the University at Buffalo.

  • Check the link address of the clickable link embedded in the email. We will NEVER request you to provide your username and/or password on a site that is not a bridgeport.edu hosted address. This is one of the most important guidelines in identifying spam/phishing emails. Almost all of those emails will include an embedded link to a rogue web site that will harvest your username and password.  The easiest way to identify the address of a link is to simply hover your mouse cursor over the suspicious link – do not click on it, just hover over it. When you hover over a link, the address of the link will appear inside a box. In the email below (which was an actual phishing email we received) you can see that the link address is https://cookj117301.wixsite.com/bridgeport – a page that was built with a free website building serviceto steal your credentials.