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Dealing with malicious emails

Phishing emails are sent to steal personal and private details from a user. These emails tend to appear to come from a trusted source, such as an institute or bank.

We often see an increase in phishing attacks just before public holidays, and often with short time-scales to try and panic you into responding when you may find it harder than usual to get written advice from the IT Service Desk. Please be especially careful of any email or phone calls asking you to divulge sensitive information such as your username and password, either directly or indirectly, i.e. via a link to change your password or to increase your mailbox quota.

IT Services will never ask for your password or send you an email with a direct link to change your password. You will always be directed to the IT Service Status page and asked to follow the Password Reset Manager link from there. If in doubt please call the IT Service Desk on 0207 882 8888, our lines are open 24/7 or raise a ticket.

To help you remain vigilant, we have devised the following list to help you determine such malicious emails.

  • Check the senders email address - do not trust the display name

This is a common error we all make. We see the display name and assume it is from someone we trust or know. When you open the email and notice that the email address is not the address of the person you are expecting, this is due to headers being easily forged.

Also note how the surname provided in the example above does not start with a capital letter. If this was from a legitimate source, i.e. a bank, they would not have emails in this format.

  • Asking you to open an attachment or select a link

Opening attachments can be detrimental as many contain viruses and can infect your machine.

  • Threats of account closure or increasing mailbox quota

QMUL will send out communications as well as emails to let you know if an account will be closed. We will not however ask you to click links to keep them active.

  • Promising you something, such as money, for no effort
  • Poor grammar and spelling errors
  • No signature or contact details

Some phishing emails may have contact details in their signature. The example phishing email does not contain a signature even though it is claiming to be from a bank.


If you think you have responded to a phishing email here are some steps to protect your account and machine:

  • Change your password/PINs for all accounts which you believe have been compromised
  • Run a virus scan
  • Keep your anti-virus software up-to-date
  • Call the IT Service Desk if you are not sure if the email is legitimate

If you receive a high volume of phishing emails please forward them to report-phishing@qmul.ac.uk.

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