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How to Protect Students and Faculty From Phishing Scams

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How to Protect Students and Faculty From Phishing Scams

(Photo : Pexels)

In December 2020, it was reported that cyberattacks against universities and public school systems were on the rise following the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Online scammers have long targeted educational institutions because they harbor a significant amount of sensitive data, including intellectual property, financial accounts, and student academic records.

One of the most common forms of cyberattacks plaguing education providers are phishing scams. A phishing attack occurs when a scammer masquerades as a trusted entity and dupes a user into opening a malicious email, link, instant message, or text message that contains a virus. This virus can then freeze the user's computer and/or access private data.

As the number of attacks continues to rise, it is more important than ever that university staff take the necessary measures to protect students and faculty from these security breaches. Here are three ways universities can safeguard their most valued members and their data from phishing scams.

1. Provide Realistic Training

All university staff should be thoroughly informed of what phishing scams are, how to spot and avoid them, and how to report them. The most effective way to ensure that all employees are equally informed is to provide comprehensive training across the institution.

It is also vital that this training be realistic. For example, if you plan to send out test phishing emails to see if employees are properly aware of the risks, make sure you format this email similar to an actual phishing email. You may format it as a special coupon offer or an important message regarding the user's credit card history. It needs to be something that is believable and that an actual scammer may use. This will help prepare your employees for the real thing if they are ever targeted.

2. Create and Publish Online Resources

While it's important for staff to be aware of phishing scams and how to avoid them, it's also essential that students are up to date on this knowledge as well. With that in mind, create free online resources (such as newsletters or blog posts) detailing this information and post it to the university website. Make sure it is easily accessible for all students, so they can conveniently inform themselves of the risks, warning signs, and proper protocols.

3. Implement a Blocking System

Many universities across the globe do not have an automatic blocking system for fraudulent emails. For instance, in Australia, only 10% of universities automatically block this type of dangerous email activity.

If your university has the IT capacity and the budget for a system of this nature, consider springing for it. Doing so would take a great deal of the legwork out of scam management and protection. Not to mention, it could be an extremely effective and long-term way of protecting your students' and faculties' important data.

 Want more information on phishing scams and how to avoid them? Click here to learn more.

Dodging cybersecurity threats is often a tall order. However, if you follow the steps listed here, the process can be made much easier. By making a conscious effort to avoid phishing schemes, you'll provide your students and faculty with the much-deserved peace of mind that their data is in the right hands.

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