Phishing emails ‘fish’ for confidential information. Phishing can happen by telephone, by text, on websites or on social media. The e-mails often contain a link to confirm login details. Criminals can then use these details to steal money from your bank account.

Criminals can also use e-mail attachments that have been deliberately infected, and recent years have even seen the emergence of so-called ransomware. It is used by criminals to block access to your files or even your entire computer. Phishing e-mails are deliberately written in a way that encourages you to click on them (after all, who wants to miss an invoice?). The attachment contains a code that connects to the internet, infecting your computer with a virus. Access to your computer is blocked and any stored files can only be decoded if you pay a certain amount of money to the cybercriminals.

You should be alert to any unexpected e-mails that you receive in your VU Amsterdam e-mail. Whatever you do, don’t open any attachments or click on links in these e-mails. If you have already clicked on a link or have doubts about whether an e-mail is genuine, you should contact the IT Service Desk at (020 59) 80 000. Please note: the IT Service Desk will never ask you by e-mail to change your password or verify your account.

Take the test
Do you think you can recognize phishing e-mails? Take the test at (in Dutch) and read on VUnet about privacy and information security. You will also find more information on using the internet safely.