Online Security: Things to Be Aware Of

There are many potential problems that pose a threat to online security. Spam, phishing scams, malware, and fraud are all commonly spread through email and internet usage. Viruses are often acquired by clicking on links or email attachments from questionable sources. You can protect yourself by doing the following:

  • Do not reply to any email asking for your username and/or password
  • Do not use links embedded in an email, especially if you do not recognize the sender
  • Report any suspicious emails to the ITS Helpdesk immediately

Below is a description of each type of online security issue that users frequently encounter:

Phishing Scams

Phishing scams are often sent as email messages designed to look like official communication from banks, companies, or even the ITS Helpdesk. These messages ask you to respond with personal or password information. If you respond, the sender can use your information to commit identity theft. If you receive an email that you believe is a phishing scam, send an email to immediately.


Spam is unsolicited email, or "junk mail." Spam is sent by companies who have your email address. Often, these are companies that you have done business with. It is best to delete these messages. If you respond to spam, it will confirm to the sender that your email address is valid.


Some companies will install spyware on your computer in order to track your internet habits. When downloading programs, always read the End User License Agreement before accepting the terms. If your computer runs slowly and you suspect it may be infected with spyware, contact the ITS Helpdesk.


Viruses are dangerous computer programs that can spread through email. Viruses infect your computer and cause damage. You can prevent viruses by making sure that you have Antivirus installed on your computer. You can also avoid viruses by updating your operating system regularly, and ignoring email attachments from questionable sources. If you suspect that your computer may be infected with a virus, contact the ITS Helpdesk.

Trojan Horse

A trojan horse is a virus that is disguised as a desirable piece of software. Avoid downloading software from unknown or questionable sources.


A worm is a virus that replicates itself and spreads to other computers over a network. Insufficient network security encourages the spread of this type of virus.