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Minnesota State University, Mankato
Minnesota State University, Mankato

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Emails look genuine, but they're not

Advanced phishing emails

New version of phishing emails raise cybersecurity alert for students

2014-12-12
Rebecca Clark, ITS Communications Coordinator

ITS has received reports this week of students receiving counterfeit emails from their instructors. If closely inspected, the fake emails contain small clues that distinguish them from real emails.

Emails regarding their course evaluations and finals appear to be coming from the instructor, complete with a signature line containing accurate information. Upon inspection, however, it can be seen that the email address is NOT from the mnsu.edu domain. Rather, it's coming from a Gmail account. (See below.)

Image of an email message with bogus information

Shane Dwyer, the Senior Director of Information Assurance and Cybersecurity at Minnesota State University, Mankato stated, "Normal daily correspondence with instructors is usually done with their official mnsu.edu email. But the fake ones are coming from a Gmail account that appears to have been created for the purpose of acquiring data. If you receive an strange email from an unfamiliar address, asking for your course number and final exam, you should delete it immediately."

Emails from an unfamiliar address, especially one that claims to be from someone you know, should heighten your awareness. If it doesn't seem quite right, trust your intuition. Such emails should be deleted immediately.

Counterfeit email communications, also referred to as "phishing" emails, often contain attachments that contain viruses that will infect your computer. Computer viruses have the potential to capture data and/or damage the computer. Captured data can be used to spread the virus further.

If you believe you have received such an email, or if you have concerns or questions about phishing emails, please contact the Service Desk at servicedesk@mnsu.edu or 507-389-6654.

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