As a high school athlete, you may be awaiting the day that you receive your first email from a college coach looking to begin the recruiting process. It could be the start of a dream come true.
What if that email is not actually from a college coach? It could be a phishing attack.
- Phishing is an attempt, by email, text or other electronic communication to install malware on your computer or device for the purposes of stealing money or extracting personal information.
In order for a phishing attack to have a high likelihood of success, you need to open the email. If the email looks like it comes from a college coach, admit that you’d probably open it. You should proceed with caution. According to recent reports, there are over 150 million phishing emails sent per day.
Here’s what you can do to ensure that the email is actually from a college, and not a phishing attack:
Use available software – Many commercial software packages are available from Norton, McAfee and other, and may already be installed on your computer as part of your antivirus solutions. Check to see that you’re protected but be aware that even with preventive software installed, about 10% of phishing attempts get through.
Examine the email carefully – Start by looking at the “from” address. Is it actually a college? For example, if you think it is an email from a football coach at Missouri, the “from” address will be email@example.com, not .com or .net.
Be skeptical of links and attachments – Do not click a link or open an attachment unless you are sure the email is from a trusted sender. If you are tempted to click a link, make sure the URL begins with https:// (which denotes a secure site), not http://.
Reach out – If you are not sure, you can attempt to contact the coach by phone or via Twitter. If he was trying to reach you, he will probably respond.
Personal information – Even of you’re mostly sure that the contact is a coach, do not reply to the email with any personal information.
While the performance of anti phishing software is improving, so are the skills of cyber villains. Install a sound software defense, but remember that some spam emails that are actually phishing attacks will still get through. If you do receive an email that looks like it is from a college but isn’t, be sure to report it to the college. It’s the right thing to do to help the student athlete community,
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