Graphic of a guy in a ninja suit fishing into a computer

Don’t take the bait!

June 13, 2022
Author: Tracey Terepocki, Manager of Information Security at VIU

A phishing attack explainer

Phishing attacks are one of the most common online scams around. Taking the bait can lead to loss of funds and breaches of personal, health or financial information. And if that wasn’t bad enough, phishing is now one of the primary entry points for ransomware.

Don’t get reeled in, get cyber safe.

Be aware that phishing has various forms, including:

  • spear phishing (phishing that targets specific individuals or groups) 
  • vishing (voice phishing conducted over the phone)
  • smishing (phishing that occurs via text or instant messaging).

Watch for phishing red flags like:

  • Urgent or threatening language
  • Unexpected delivery notices or receipts
  • Strange links or attachments

Keep a weather eye on phishing bait that:

Tries to scare you or put you in a panic with threats:

  • “Your most recent payment was REJECTED” or “We will pursue LEGAL ACTION if you do not respond.”

Promises money or a reward – too good to be true:

  • “Special LIMITED-TIME Offer!” or “YOU have won a FREE VACATION!” 

Appeals to your kindness:

  • “Hey, I’m stuck in Mexico and I’ve lost my passport and wallet” or “Please help this holiday season.”

Asks you to verify or update your information, then pretends to be a trusted organization:

  • “Please update you Microsoft account information” or “Please take a second to verify your Paypal account.”

Appeals to your curiosity

An example is leaving a USB in a parking lot that infects your computer once you plug it in.


Don’t take the Bait! Ready to test your skills - try the June Phishing Quiz!

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