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Avoiding Phishing and Other E-Mail Scams

Recently, an email phishing campaign was discovered directly targeting SUNY students.  "Phishing" is the most common type of cyber attack that affects colleges and universities all over the country.  Phishing attacks can take many forms, but they all share a common goal – getting you to share sensitive information such as your login credentials, credit card information, or bank account details.

Here are a few different types of phishing attacks to watch out for:

• Phishing: In this type of attack, hackers impersonate a real company to obtain your login credentials. You may receive an e-mail asking you to verify your account details with a link that takes you to an imposter login screen that delivers your information directly to the attackers.

• Spear Phishing: Spear phishing is a more sophisticated phishing attack that includes customized information that makes the attacker seem like a legitimate source. They may use your name and phone number and refer to SUNY or SUNY Orange in the e-mail to trick you into thinking they have a connection to you, making you more likely to click a link or attachment that they provide.

• Whaling: Whaling is a popular ploy aimed at getting you to transfer money or send sensitive information to an attacker via email by impersonating a real College official. Using a fake domain that appears similar to ours (such as, they look like normal emails from a high-level official of the College, typically the president, Registrar, Financial Aid, etc., and ask you for sensitive information (including usernames and passwords).

• Shared Document Phishing: You may receive an e-mail that appears to come from file-sharing sites like Dropbox or Google Drive alerting you that a document has been shared with you. The link provided in these e-mails will take you to a fake login page that mimics the real login page and will steal your account credentials.


What You Can Do? 

To avoid these phishing schemes, please observe the following email best practices:

• Do not click on links or attachments from senders that you do not recognize. Be especially wary of .zip or other compressed or executable file types.

• Do not provide sensitive personal information (like usernames and passwords) over email.

• Watch for email senders that use suspicious or misleading domain names.

• Inspect URLs carefully to make sure they are legitimate and not imposter sites.

• Do not try to open any shared document that you are not expecting to receive.

• If you cannot tell if an email is legitimate or not, please contact the sending office (e.g., Financial Aid, Registrar, etc.).

• Be especially cautious when opening attachments or clicking links if you receive an email containing a warning banner indicating that it originated from an external source.

Although we maintain controls to help protect our networks and computers from cyber threats, we rely on you to be our first line of defense.  SUNY and SUNY Orange will never ask for personal information or login credentials via email.  Should you encounter a suspicious email, please forward them to

Thanks again for helping to keep our network, and our community, safe from these cyber threats.

Please let us know if you have any questions.

Mike Tharp