Thursday, August 21, 2014

Communications from Macalester's ITS

Welcome (or welcome back) to Macalester College, from all of us in Information Technology Services! We will tell you whenever there's something important happening with information technologies at Macalester.  We send advance notice of scheduled system downtimes, planned maintenance, new developments and other issues that affect you.  Our primary communication venues are this Notices and Alerts blog (hint: you're reading it now) and the Daily Piper, published by the Communications & Public Relations office.  Check these sources first. 

When unplanned system events or problems arise, we also use 'ITS-Alerts' e-mail lists to reach faculty, staff and students.  We try to notify you of significant technical events. We realize you prefer messages that are brief, clear, relevant and infrequent. ITS staff will always communicate with you using our own Macalester accounts or with Macalester distribution lists, such as ITS-Alerts.  All ITS staff are listed in the online Directory, and all of us include accurate contact information in messages we send.

Don't be fooled by "phishing" scam emails. These fake messages look like official communications from banks, government offices or Macalester ITS. They try to trick you into revealing confidential information, such as passwords or credit card numbers, supposedly "to verify your account" or "confirm your email." If you reply, your information can be used to perpetrate fraud in your name, or even get access to your bank accounts, medical records, etc. You should never reply to a phishing scam or click links in it. If you are suspicious of any email you receive, please call our Help Desk at 651-696-6525.

How can you recognize a phishing scam?  Here are some common clues.

*No legitimate institution will ask you to divulge personal or account information via e-mail.  ITS staff will never do so.  This clue alone is a dead giveaway.

*Phishing scams often ask for information that a legitimate sender should already have.  (Why would your bank ask you for your account number? Why would ITS staff ask for your e-mail username?)

*The message uses generic phrases like "Dear Account Holder" or "Dear Property Owner" rather than your name.  (If you have an account with a firm, wouldn't they use your name in correspondence?)

*The message originates from someone you do not know, with a 'From:' address that seems odd. The signature will be vague, probably not the same as the 'From:' address, possibly a meaningless phrase like "Account Team" or "Financial Services."

*Bad grammar, misspellings, clumsy punctuation, odd capitalization, and broken or badly-written English are nearly ubiquitous in phishing scams.

Remember, ITS staff will NEVER ask for your password via email!

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