Campus News

Reporting Phishing and Junk Mail, How You Can Contribute to Protecting Us All

LEXINGTON, Ky. (April 2, 2021) — University of Kentucky Information Technology Services (ITS) would like to encourage all students, faculty and staff to contribute to UK’s cybersecurity posture by becoming familiar with the best ways to report unwanted emails in your inbox. 

Phishing and Junk — What are they? What’s the difference?  

Phishing is defined as emails that attempt to obtain sensitive information, such as usernames, passwords and credit card information for malicious reasons. Junk, also referred to as spam, is a term for unsolicited messages sent to your email account. It is important to note that while all phishing is considered junk or spam, not all junk is phishing. While junk mail is unsolicited, it is typically not malicious (e.g., advertisements, promotional mailing lists). Knowing the difference between these two email types helps to report the messages correctly. 

What is the best way to report? 

Both Microsoft and Google have sophisticated tools for reporting phishing and junk mail. In Microsoft Outlook, the “Report Message” button allows you to report emails as either “Junk” or “Phishing.” Google has a similar way to report phishing and spam within Gmail. Reporting this way helps all of us at UK by providing both Microsoft and Google with information that can power their email filters.

Smarter email filters mean there is a less likely chance for you to get similar phishing or junk mail again in the future. Detailed instructions on how to report unwanted email in Outlook or Gmail can be found in How do I report spam and phishing emails? from the Tech Help Center (techhelpcenter.uky.edu). 

Not sure whether an email is safe? 

For tips and tricks on how to detect phishing, ITS recommends visiting the #CyberSafeCats website at www.uky.edu/its/CyberSafe. There, you can read articles, watch videos and sign up to receive ITS’ Phishing Newsletter. If you are still unsure whether an email is phishing, send the email as an attachment to IsThisEmailSafe@uky.edu. If an email that you determine suspicious is delivered to a junk folder or is quarantined by Microsoft or Google, there is no need to further report. ITS asks that you please do not pull any messages out of junk to report to IsThisEmailSafe@uky.edu. If you have fallen for a phishing attack that has resulted in compromised personal or financial information, please see What should I do if I've fallen victim to a spam or phishing attack? for next steps. 

ITS appreciates the cooperation of us all to report phishing and junk mail appropriately in order to keep us all safe from attacks. Students, faculty and staff at UK reported 1,729 phishing attacks and 2,548 junk messages via the Outlook “Report Messages” button in just a 30-day period alone. These reports continue to make our inboxes safer at UK and continue to help ITS be proactive against the ever-evolving threats to our cybersecurity at UK.  

For 24/7 immediate assistance, please contact ITS Customer Services at 859-218-HELP (4357) or visit the Tech Help Center at http://techhelpcenter.uky.edu. For assistance with non-urgent matters, email 218help@uky.edu

The University of Kentucky is increasingly the first choice for students, faculty and staff to pursue their passions and their professional goals. In the last two years, Forbes has named UK among the best employers for diversity, and INSIGHT into Diversity recognized us as a Diversity Champion four years running. UK is ranked among the top 30 campuses in the nation for LGBTQ* inclusion and safety. UK has been judged a “Great College to Work for" three years in a row, and UK is among only 22 universities in the country on Forbes' list of "America's Best Employers."  We are ranked among the top 10 percent of public institutions for research expenditures — a tangible symbol of our breadth and depth as a university focused on discovery that changes lives and communities. And our patients know and appreciate the fact that UK HealthCare has been named the state’s top hospital for five straight years. Accolades and honors are great. But they are more important for what they represent: the idea that creating a community of belonging and commitment to excellence is how we honor our mission to be not simply the University of Kentucky, but the University for Kentucky.