Information technology (IT) users should be aware of potential email scams, fake antivirus, and phishing attacks in the wake of significant events and news reports, such as the earthquake/tsunami tragedy in Japan, the Sony Play Station compromise, and more recently Osama Bin Laden’s death.
Email scams may contain links or attachments that may direct users to malicious websites. Fake antivirus attacks may come in the form of pop-ups that flash security warnings and ask the user for credit card information. Phishing emails and websites requesting personal information commonly appear after this type of news.

There are a number of steps savvy IT users can take to minimize exposure to these types of threats, including but not limited to, the following:

Be wary of unsolicited attachments, even from people you know – Just because an email message looks like it came from a familiar source, malicious actors often “spoof” the return address, making it look like the message came from someone else.

Keep software up to date – Install software patches so that attackers can’t take advantage of known problems or vulnerabilities, enabling automatic updates when available.

Trust your instincts – If an email or email attachment seems suspicious, don’t open it, even if your anti-virus software indicates that the message is virus free. Don’t let curiosity put your computer at risk.

For additional information about how to protect yourself from these and other types of technology threats, visit http://www.msisac.org/