Students searching for scholarships the latest phishing target

  • Security awareness trainer CyberNut says students are becoming an increasingly attractive target for online scammers.
  • The lure of fake scholarships and financial aid in particular is a popular method for phishing.
  • There are, however, a few tricks available to check whether an offer is too good to be true.

Phishing emails have grown increasingly frequent additions to anyone’s inbox and scammers constantly try to pry away sensitive information away from unwitting targets. Now students are in the crosshairs, according to security awareness training provider CyberNut, which has noted a higher volume of phishing attempts targeting learners.

“Students and teachers alike are increasingly becoming targets of phishing email scams, posing significant risks to personal and sensitive information. These deceptive tactics employed by cybercriminals often appear legitimate and can easily deceive unsuspecting victims,” it shared in a release with Hypertext.

Unpacking some of the ways that scammers trick their targets, when it comes to students in particular, CyberNut noted that the lure of scholarships and financial aid has proved an effective method, usually to the detriment of the learners.

Adding credence to this is SA’s own NSFAS financial aid scheme, which regularly warns of scams trying to get students to share information or banking details in a bid to siphon money away from its intended recipient.

“Cybercriminals impersonate educational institutions, sending fraudulent emails claiming urgent updates, such as changes to academic schedules, new policies, or account verification requests. These emails often contain malicious links or attachments that, when clicked, lead to phishing websites or malware downloads,” it explained.

“Phishers exploit students’ financial concerns by sending emails promising lucrative scholarships, grants, or financial aid opportunities. These emails request personal and financial information, such as social security numbers or bank account details, under the guise of processing applications, ultimately leading to identity theft or financial fraud,” added CyberNut.

While being targeted by scammers is something that is close to unavoidable, given how much data is freely accessible or purchasable on the dark web these days, the security trainer does serve up some helpful tips to assist students from being victims of a phishing attempt.

These tips are not just limited to students, however, and serve as solid advice for anyone.

The tips are:

  • Hover Over Links – Before clicking on any links in emails, hover your mouse over them to preview the URL. Be cautious of shortened or obfuscated URLs that may redirect to phishing websites.
  • Verify Sender Identities – Examine the sender’s email address carefully for any discrepancies or irregularities. Pay attention to misspellings or variations in domain names that may indicate a spoofed identity.
  • Beware Of Unsolicited Attachments – Avoid opening email attachments from unknown or unexpected sources, as they may contain malware or ransomware designed to infect your device and steal sensitive information.
  • Enable Two-Factor Authentication – Implement two-factor authentication (2FA) wherever possible to add an extra layer of security to your accounts. This helps prevent unauthorized access even if your credentials are compromised.”

[Image – Photo by Windows on Unsplash]


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