Phishing and Virus Information
Since the College is a public institution, it can be quite simple for malicious actors to find any preliminary information they need to initiate an attack. Phishing attacks are not static; they evolve with time to increase their success rate. We’ve seen spear phishing that uses college logos and department names. We’ve seen spear phishing in response to specific, timely topics and news events. These current scams have one tell-tale sign of phishing: It comes from a non-HGTC address, yet says it comes from someone within the College. Keep in mind, an HGTC email account can be comprised, and scammers can use the HGTC email to send malicious emails. In these types of situations where it appears an email is coming from a colleague, it is important to think before responding: take the time to review the content of the email, address, and what information is being requested. When in doubt call your colleague to ensure the email is legitimate.
Keep these tips in mind to protect yourself from fraudulent emails:
- Take a moment to think before you act. Be wary of emails that ask you to do something you wouldn’t normally do, even if a message appears to come from college leadership.
- Compare the sender’s “from” email address along with the “reply-to” address.
- Verify your email address shows in the “to” field.
- Be wary of red flags such as poor spelling and grammar.
- Never provide your login credentials or any personal information. HGTC will NEVER ask you for this kind of information by email.
- If a message appears suspicious, either contact the colleague via phone or contact IT to verify it is legitimate before clicking any links or replying.
- Use caution when clicking links. Hover over links to check that the address matches
where the link is intended to go or simply type the address of the website you want
to visit in your browser yourself.
OIT carefully maintains spam filters that prevent some unsolicited mass emails from reaching inboxes – we have to be careful with filters because we could block legitimate emails. However, phishing scams are more likely to pass through the filters because they are designed to look very legitimate to scanning software. Controlling fraudulent emails is a never-ending battle. Currently, we are researching new technologies that will help reduce this influx of phishing emails.
If you believe you have received a suspicious email or accidentally responded to a suspicious email, you should immediately contact the OIT Help Desk.
What is a computer virus?
Think of a biological virus – the kind that makes you sick. It’s persistently nasty, keeps you from functioning normally, and often requires something powerful to get rid of it. A computer virus is very similar. Designed to replicate relentlessly, computer viruses infect your programs and files, alter the way your computer operates or stop it from working altogether.
How does a computer virus find me?
Even if you’re careful, you can pick up computer viruses through normal Web activities like:
- Sharing music, files, or photos with other users
- Visiting an infected website
- Opening Spam email or an email attachment
- Downloading free games, toolbars, media players and other system utilities
- Installing mainstream software applications without thoroughly reading license agreements
What does a computer virus do?
Some computer viruses are programmed to harm your computer by damaging programs, deleting files, or reformatting the hard drive. Others simply replicate themselves or flood a network with traffic, making it impossible to perform any internet activity. Even less harmful computer viruses can significantly disrupt your system’s performance, sapping computer memory and causing frequent computer crashes.
What are the symptoms of a computer virus?
Your computer may be infected if you recognize a combination of these symptoms:
- Slow computer performance
- Erratic computer behavior
- Unexplained data loss
- Frequent computer crashes
How to protect against computer viruses
When you arm yourself with information and resources, you’re wiser about computer security threats and less vulnerable to threat tactics. Take these steps to safeguard your PC with the best computer virus protection:
- Use antivirus protection and a firewall
- Get antispyware software
- Always keep your antivirus protection and antispyware software up-to-date
- Update your operating system regularly
- Increase your browser security settings
- Avoid questionable Web sites
- Only download software from sites you trust.
- Carefully evaluate free software and file-sharing applications before downloading them.
- Don't open messages from unknown senders
- Immediately delete messages you suspect to be spam