Posted: June 15, 2017

Some visitors to the front door do not earn enough of your confidence to open the door and let them sit at your kitchen table. There are other circumstances when this same caution is a good idea, too.

Imagine, if you will, a persistent knocking at your front door. You are in the midst of a hectic day, but you stop and look out through the peephole viewer and very courteously yell through the door, "Who the heck are you and what do you want? I'm busy here!"

"You don't know us, but I have money and gifts for you - and this fellow tells jokes, and the one on the end can read your future. Let us in and we will do good things for you!"

Now, in such scenario, the average Pennsylvanian would reply, "Thank you, no. I am not expecting money nor gifts, I don't like jokes, and I prefer my future to be revealed day by day. Begone, you scoundrels," (or something similar, but shorter and much more colorful). To let them in can ruin your house, threaten your family and your neighbors, put your valuable possessions at risk, reduce your wealth, and cost you time.

This same caution is necessary today with your email and social media usage. When you see these messages at the front door of your email mailbox, offering money, success, Nobel awards, spouses, FedEx shipments, inexpensive doctorates, daily jokes, discount credit cards, or a Kennedy Center Honor, stop and challenge the mail message. Make certain that you have been expecting the Nobel, or a credit card, or packages before you open the door and let them in. Chances are, if you take just an extra moment to think about it…or if you check with Ag IT Support or your consultant…you will respond to their message with "Begone!" as you click the delete button.

And the consequences of clicking these links, while not as dangerous as having unknown persons in your home, can be dire, too. People on the other end of email scams can use your computer to harvest your information, and then to travel all around the network to disrupt and steal from all of your colleagues.

Penn State's Office of Information Security hosts a website dedicated to providing information about phishing and current scams being seen across the University. You can find that information here:

Penn State and Ag IT have put many technology safeguards in place to protect you and your data, but the first line of defense is often your reaction the moment the message hits your mailbox. Just remember and use that elegant and respectful greeting, "Who the heck are you and what do you want? I'm busy here!"

Information Technologies


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State College, PA 16802