Scammers are good at coming up with website names that seem legitimate but take you to a site you didn’t intend to visit—often a troublesome one that could infect your computer with malware.
Their trick: include just enough recognizable words and phrases to confuse people. At first glance, when you see those familiar words, it seems real. But a closer look reveals that it’s bogus.
These email messages claim to come from ITS, and you recognize phrases like uiowa and outlook.
But, both are bogus, and here’s how you can tell. Ignore everything that comes after http:// and the first “/”. What remains there, sandwiched in the middle, is the actual site name:
The first example includes “uiowa.edu,” but ends with “.ru” The “.ru” indicates a site in Russia—a highly unlikely origin for a message about any UIowa account.
The second example doesn’t have the host name, just the numeric address (IP address) that underlies a host name. A URL that only includes an IP address should be treated with great suspicion.
One more clue
We’ll wrap up this lesson with one last tip: Watch for letter substitutions.
You might see something like firstname.lastname@example.org, with the number 1 used in place of the lower case i. in “uiowa.”
Or, Helpdesk @its.ui0wa.edu, with a zero rather than the letter o.