Penn State to hold phishing awareness event in April

April 02, 2010

University Park, Pa. — To raise awareness about dangerous phishing scams circulating throughout the University, Penn State is sponsoring an anti-phishing event from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Wednesday, April 21 in Findlay Hall Commons, on the University Park campus. ITS staff will hand out bags of Pepperidge Farm Goldfish snacks along with phishing tips to help students, faculty, and staff learn how to protect themselves from fraudulent e-mails and other types of computer scams. 

The University is holding the above events to warn community members that scam artists have been using fake e-mail requests with official sounding Penn State addresses (such as administrator@psu.edu, webmail@psu.edu and helpdesk@psu.edu) to "phish" for passwords and sensitive information from University computer users. ITS emphasizes these e-mail messages are NOT being sent by administrative offices at Penn State. Students, faculty and staff should not reply to these messages, as they are not legitimate and could lead to the compromise of Access Accounts, computers and data. ITS strongly recommends that the messages be deleted. Anyone who already has replied to one of these fraudulent messages should contact Security Operations and Services (SOS) at (814) 863-9533.

"Penn State departments and offices will never require you to provide sensitive information such as passwords, credit card numbers, or social security information via e-mail," said Kathy Kimball, senior director of SOS. "Never give your password to anyone via e-mail under any circumstances. Passwords are an essential part of your Penn State digital identity and must be kept as secure as possible."

Phishing schemes are becoming more and more dangerous and the e-mails look increasingly realistic, according to ITS staff, closely imitating University offices and departments. But even if a company or university address looks legitimate, it's important to never send private information in response to an e-mail of this kind.

"Always look before you click, ask questions and verify the e-mail you receive when it looks questionable," Kimball adds, "and never enter personal information on a pop-up screen when you're surfing the Web.  Scammers use pop-up messages, e-mail, social networking and many other tricks to get your personal information."

For more information about how to protect your personal data from phishing scams and other dangers, visit the Penn State's Take Control Web site at http://its.psu.edu/takecontrol/phishing.php online.

Last Updated April 13, 2010