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The internet offers a wide world of benefits. It makes sending and receiving information easier than ever before. Like most things in life, it is not perfect. Thieves use the internet to try to steal your information. Often this involves scams called ‘phishing’ and ‘spoofing.’ Phishing occurs when an online scammer reproduces the appearance of a legitimate website in order to trick the victim into entering sensitive data. Spoofing occurs when a fraudulent email sender hopes to have someone respond to an email that is made to look as if it is from a legitimate company.

Combinations of spoofing and phishing may make convincing lies that can easily make anyone a victim. Here are some tips to help you navigate through safely:

  1. Check the website address (or URL) being used. Fake sites are commonly used to lure in the unsuspecting user. The web address for the phishing site may closely resemble the authentic website. It may even contain the address of the authentic website but also includes code to reroute the traffic to a false website. When in doubt, avoid clicking on links in an email. Instead, use a known bookmark or website to login to a service you use to verify the content of a message. Many scam emails come looking like a legitimate message tempting you to click on a link in the message.
  2. Stay alert and be skeptical of people unexpectedly contacting you by email or phone and asking about personal information. Only open emails, links and attachments from trustworthy sources. When in doubt, ask the experts in ITS.
  3. Know who your providers are for your hosting, email and internet sites. Also know how these providers will be contacting you. System administrators should never ask you for your address and passwords.
  4. Protect your computer with spam filters, anti-virus software and firewalls. For optimal protection, make sure to keep these programs up to date. ITS will provide this software with all campus owned computers. We can also recommend some options for your personally owned computers.
  5. Act immediately if you think you have been a victim of an online scam. If you have provided account numbers, pins or passwords to an unidentified source, notify the companies that you have accounts with right away. You should also change any possible compromised passwords immediately. Notify the ITS help desk if this breach involves your Canisius accounts.
  6. Change your password regularly or use strong passwords and pass phrases. Faculty and staff are required to change their password every six months. Avoid using the same password for everything. See last week’s post in the Dome for more information about passwords.

If you have a question or concern about online content, scams or other computer-related issues, contact the ITS Help Desk at Ext. 8340 or by Email at

Submitted by: Scott Clark, director, User Services/ITS