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Suspicious emails

Find out what they are - and how to deal with them.

What is suspicious email?

Suspicious email can take many forms.

Spam email

Spam is unsolicited email, the electronic equivalent of the junk mail that gets shoved through our letterboxes.

There are spam emails that simply feature unwanted marketing messages. Manchester Met has a system in place to catch spam email which will be automatically moved to your Recycle Bin, or what we call 'quarantine'.

How to recover safe email from quarantine

Spam is more than just an annoyance, it is often used as a vehicle for all sorts of nasties that can attack our computers, our network and even our bank accounts.

And there are malicious emails sent to try and infect your PC with malware.

Malicious emails sometimes pretend to be sent by someone you know, to trick you into opening those emails. This is called email spoofing. Hackers will often pretend to be from a trusted organisation in order to dupe you into providing them with confidential or personal information that in turn can be used to access your online accounts.

Phishing scams

Phishing is an increasingly common problem. Phishing is a variety of spam which tries to trick you into giving up your username, password, bank PINs etc. This kind of personal data will allow the phisher to gain access to your account and steal your money or even your identity.

Spear Phishing is also on the increase - this is where an email is used as a fraud attempt to target a specific organisation, with the aim of gaining unauthorised access to confidential data including trade secrets, research or military information. The email will generally come from a senior person at a well known company and therefore appears legitimate.

Our comprehensive security systems keep more than a million spam emails and viruses from reaching University inboxes every week, but inevitably there are still a few that slip through the net - so you need to be vigilant.

What to do with spam and phishing attempts:

Recognising malicious email

Simply opening a dodgy email doesn't do any harm. It's what you do with the contents that causes the damage. So, if the email asks you to click on a link or open an attachment proceed with caution. Attachments may contain viruses. Links can take you to websites that infect your computer with viruses or invite you to enter your login or bank details.

Some general advice on identifying and handling phishing emails:

These are all valuable clues that an email may be spam rather than genuine - but they're not absolute proof.

Sometimes you'll receive a completely innocent email written in substandard English - and most of us have Gmail and/or Hotmail accounts.

Use your judgement when following this guidance and if in any doubt, please contact the IT Helpline on 0161 247 4646.

If you believe you have received a suspicious email and would like some more advice on what to do with it, contact the IT Helpline.

What to do if you have responded to a phishing attempt

Our security systems protect us from the vast majority of attacks and applying the advice given above will help to keep you safe. However, nobody is completely immune to a cleverly-designed phishing attack and sometimes you can click something in error. Under these circumstances, you need to act quickly. This is what you should do:

It is important that we are all on our guard against suspicious emails.

Dealing with suspicious emails

We take suspicious email very seriously here at Manchester Met.

For more about keeping your data and information safe, visit Information Security's Support pages.

Need IT Support?

The IT Helpline team is on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Or come see us weekdays in the Business School Student Hub or University library 

  • Call: 0161 247 4646
  • Self Service (24/7): assist.mmu.ac.uk
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  • Visit:
    • Student Hub (Staff and Students) 9:30am - 15:45pm
      Ground Floor
      Business School
      M15 6BH
    • Library (Students) 12pm-4pm
      Ground Floor
      Library
      M15 6BX
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