IT Security Reminder

Tuesday, April 30, 2024, 2:15pm

TO: Campus Community
FR: Evan Ferguson, Chief Technology Officer and Information Security Officer

In light of an increase in cyber threats and phishing scams targeting our campus, Information Technology would like to remind all Seawolves of the importance of staying vigilant against online scams. Cyber threats are constantly evolving, and phishing remains one of the most common and effective methods used by malicious actors to gain access to sensitive information. Below is a refresher on what phishing is, how to recognize it, and steps to take if you suspect you've encountered a phishing email or website.


Phishers are criminals who attempt to deceive you into sharing your username and password, Social Security number, birth date, or other sensitive information by impersonating an organization with whom you have an electronic account. Phishing emails may contain or link to malicious software (malware) that allows others to access your computer, including your files, camera, microphone, monitor, and speakers. Some malware can use your computer without your knowledge to perpetrate further criminal activity.

You should suspect phishing when:

  • You receive an unexpected email or an email claims to be part of a transaction you did not initiate
  • The email contains obvious deviations from standard practice, such as when the "To" or "From" addresses are incorrect or missing, or when the message contains poor spelling and grammar, generic greetings, or incorrect information
  • The email contains threats, requests for money or sensitive information, or offers that seem too good to be true
  • Upon hovering over a link, the target URL doesn’t match the displayed text or is formatted deceptively (Ex. and are links to and not
  • Something doesn’t look right to you

What to do when you suspect that an email may be phishing: 

  • Do not respond
  • Do not open any attachments or click any links in the email
  • Never provide account credentials and passwords through email
  • If you are unsure if an email is legitimate, contact the IT Help Desk at 707-664-HELP (4357) or SSU IT will never ask for your username and password in email.

Duo Reminder

If you receive an unexpected prompt from the Duo app on your phone to approve a login, DO NOT APPROVE THE LOGIN! If this occurs, an attacker has successfully guessed or stolen your password. In this situation:

  • Select "Deny" in the Duo app.
  • When asked "Was this a suspicious login?" Press "Yes."
  • Change your password immediately.

Email Protocol

Level I data such as passwords, PINs, account numbers, etc., must never be sent through email unencrypted. When sending encrypted data through email, the key needed to decrypt it (the decryption key or passphrase) should never be sent over email. The key should be sent using a separate communication medium, such as telephone or text message. Remember to double-check the recipients when sending Level II data or other sensitive information through email.

Thank you for your attention to this matter and for your continued commitment to maintaining the security of our organization.