Phishing vs. Spam

Most of us receive phishing and spam email daily. Phishing emails are intentionally deceptive and designed to scam personal information by impersonating known organizations, people, or companies. Spam emails are unsolicited junk emails that contain commercial or sometimes misleading information and are sent frequently, even from legitimate company or organizational email addresses.

Unlike emails sent legitimately from companies or organizations, phishing attempts often begin with impersonal greetings, such as “Dear Client,” instead of addressing you by name. They also frequently contain grammar or spelling errors and urge you to click on a malware-infected link. Always hover your mouse over a link to see if it leads to the intended site or use the URL Decoder on Spam emails don’t have as many defining characteristics, but they are usually advertisements sent frequently to alert recipients of sales, or that urge you to do something, like completing a survey or visiting a website.

You should always report phishing emails received in your UF GatorMail email. Also, you may be able to cut down on the amount of spam you receive by unsubscribing from company and organizational marketing emails. Students, faculty, and staff can use the Phish Alert Button in their GatorMail to report phishing attempts. For spam emails, unsubscribe from all of the sender’s communications by looking for an “Unsubscribe” link at the bottom of the email (usually in small text) of each spam message received.

Learn more about email safety:

Help UF Win the Cyber State Championship!

The Cyber Bowl is back! To spotlight Cybersecurity Awareness Month, UF has challenged nine other Florida universities to beat us on the virtual football field. The 2023 Cyber Bowl is an online competition, held Oct. 9 – Oct. 20. The Gators are competing for the title of State Champions against Florida State University, the University of Central Florida, the University of Miami, Florida Gulf Coast University, University of West Florida, University of North Florida, Florida International University, University of South Florida, and New College.

The Cyber Bowl consists of five questions, each related to social engineering. So, how do the Gators win?

The university with the highest percentage of faculty, students, and staff game players (based on their population number for each affiliation) wins. All that’s needed to register your entry in the game is a valid UFL.EDU email address. Every participating university is answering the same five questions. Just for playing in the Cyber Bowl, you’ll be entered to win a pair of tickets to the sold-out Florida-Florida State game on Nov. 25! UFIT will randomly select the winner from all game entries after the Cyber Bowl ends. You don’t have to answer the questions correctly for a chance to win. Just complete the entry screen after the questions.

To play, visit anytime between Oct. 9 – Oct. 20 and answer the questions. Make sure to enter your GatorLink credentials at the end of the game, so your entry is counted for UF. Thank you for participating in this year’s Cyber Bowl… and GO GATORS!

Social Engineering Pages Added to Website

UFIT recently added new pages to that educate about social engineering scams. The university community is a huge target for social engineering attacks–attacks that include phishing and smishing. By reviewing the social engineering webpages, Gators can learn the difference between everyday communications and an actual social engineering attack.

Received a text recently saying your UF email account will be suspended if you don’t certify your account via the link provided? Smish! UFIT has tracked significant growth in social engineering attempts like this in the past year. Social engineering attempts range from fake bank texts and “extended warranty” phone calls to emails pretending to be from UF professors offering $350 per week jobs. Having a large community on one network is extremely attractive for cyber-scammers. So, helping all Gators better understand which communications are legitimate and which are fraudulent keeps all us safer from attacks.

It only takes one click on a malicious link to cause a world of hurt. Learn to recognize social engineering tactics and help secure UF! If you are unsure whether an email or text purporting to be from UF is legitimate, you can always ask the UFIT Help Desk for assistance.

Tech Resolutions For a Safer 2022

Staying cyber secure is a great new year resolution that won’t have you counting calories or committing to more exercise!  By adopting some of the resolutions below, the UF community can make a huge difference to their overall cybersecurity safety (also known as your “security posture”).  Enhance your cyber footprint security by:

  1. Changing compromised passwords and creating different passwords for each account. Check for compromised passwords at
  2. Activating multi-factor authentication (MFA) on critical accounts like email, banking, and social media. Find which sites you use support MFA by visiting
  3. Deleting old social media accounts and other accounts you no longer use.
  4. Reviewing privacy and security settings annually on social media accounts and other sites at least once a year.
  5. Removing unused apps from mobile devices. Unused apps are like unused accounts–they store information that can be used against you if they’re compromised.
  6. Creating a guest network for visitors to your home. If you have smart devices like Ring or Nest, consider creating a guest network for those items. Then if the smart devices get compromised, your home network will still be protected.
  7. Thoroughly delete (“wipe”) all electronic devices before donating or disposing, or have them shredded by a trusted vendor. UF Surplus manages the secure disposal of electronic media and electronic waste of university technology.

For more ways to be cybersafe in 2022,  check out the email safety and computer protection boxes on UF’s Information Security Office website homepage.