Phishing Alert: Spear phishing email sent to Auburn University

A spear phishing message was sent out to the Auburn University community this morning. To learn about about phishing, visit

Email Message

Here's a screen shot of the latest email. Can you spot the signs of a phishing attempt?

Today's Phishing Email

  1. Return Address: The email identifies itself as "Auburn University"but the actual return address is "". Note: "David"probably did not send this message and this address is being spoofed.
  2. Generic Greeting: "Dear User"
  3. Urgent/Threatening Language: "Your account has been flagged"
  4. Poor Grammar/Spelling: Read that subject line and the second sentence again.
  5. URLs Don't Match: The links says it is ""but if you hover your cursor over the link you would see the true destination: "", which is not an Auburn University page.
  6. Avoid the Obvious: "Maintenance Department"doesn't apply in this instance.

Landing Page

You shouldn't have clicked the link, but if you had it would have taken you to the following page. This is a clear example of "Spear Phishing". The only individuals being targeted are Auburn University affiliates. Notice the phishing signs?

  1. Page is Not Secure: Look out! Never log into a website that does not have a proper security certificate. Look for the Lock icon in the address bar (usually should be green).
  2. Bad URL: Check out that URL? That's not an Auburn website!

Today's Phishing Email

Did You Fall for It?

  1. Immediately change the password to the online account the phishing email was pretending to be from and to any other accounts that used the same login information.
  2. Contact the OIT HelpDesk at (334) 844-4944 or
  3. Run a virus scan of your system using your anti-virus software.
  4. If you believe you may be the victim of identity theft, visit: Federal Commission for Identity Theft
  5. Forward the phishing email "as an attachment" to and then DELETE the message from your Inbox.
  6. Regularly check your banking and credit card accounts for any unauthorized transactions that may have been initiated by the phishers.


  • DO NOT reply to email with any personal information or passwords. If you have reason to believe that the request is real, call the institution or company directly.
  • DO NOT click a link in an unsolicited email message. If you have reason to believe the request is real, type the web address for the company or institution directly into your web browser.
  • DO NOT use the same password for your University account, bank, Facebook, etc. In the event you do fall victim to a phishing attempt the thieves will try the compromised password in as many places as they can.
  • DO change ALL of your passwords if you suspect any account you have access to may be compromised.
  • DO be equally cautious when reading email on your phone. It may be easier to miss telltale signs of phishing attempts when reading the email on a smaller screen.


Last Updated: August 23, 2016