System Administration Information Security Program



What is Phishing?

Phishing is typically an email scam which tries to trick people into thinking a legitimate organization is requesting private information. These scams request you to either reply, or follow a link to a site that often looks identical to the service the email is mimicking. Banks, E-bay, and Paypal are traditional targets.


Spear Phishing is a type of scam that targets a specific organization, such as UT System Administration, in an attempt to trick people into revealing private information. Often, those sending out the scams have researched the targeted organization for names the organization uses, practices, and other details to lend their scams an air of authenticity. Some spear phishing emails may look identical to an announcement you may expect from that organization. The best way to combat these is to always be skeptical when someone is requesting information, and to never, ever, email your password, bank account numbers, social security, or credit card numbers to anyone.


What does a Phishing email look like?

Phishing emails typically have a generic greeting and warn of some sudden change in an account which requires you to verify that you still use the service. These emails either include directions to reply with private information, or provide a link to a web site to verify your account. Emails claiming very sudden changes (within a week) or those that use poor spelling and grammar are clear warning signs of a fraudulent phishing email.


Will UT System send legitimate emails that look like phishing scams?

There will be times when legitimate messages must be sent to inform our email users of necessary changes to their accounts such as password expiration notices. However, it is very important to remember that UT System Administration will never ask for your password in an email. Additionally, official OTIS communications have a formalized style and are reproduced on the OTIS SharePoint site.


If you are ever in doubt about the legitimacy of an email, call the Help Desk at (512) 499-4357 or email the Help Desk at


Why can't UT System stop these emails?

UT System Administration stops thousands of phishing attempts, spam emails, and virus infected messages every day, but the methods scammers use change quickly to try to stay ahead of blocking techniques. Due to the broad range of use for UT System Administration, we must also be careful not to implement a filter which may block otherwise legitimate email from our users.


How can I avoid phishing scams?

Never send passwords, bank account numbers, or other private information in an email. Avoid clicking links in emails, especially any that are requesting private information. Be wary of any unexpected email attachments or links, even from people you know. Never enter private or personal information into a popup window. Look for 'https://' and a lock icon in the address bar before entering any private information on a website. Install and regularly update an anti-virus program that can scan email.


What should I do if I have been scammed by phishing?

Contact the organization that was the target of the scam to change any private information such as passwords or account numbers immediately. For UT System Administration, contact the Help Desk. If you suspect a bank or credit card account may have been compromised, contact that institution to check your account immediately and request a credit report.

Contact Us

201 W. 7th Street

Ashbel Smith Hall (ASH 3)

Austin, TX 78701


Barry Moody, Information Security Officer



Xavier Herrera, Information Security Analyst



Tom Lane, Network Analyst



  • © The University of Texas System
  • Systemwide Compliance
  • 201 West 7th Street
  • Austin, TX 78701
  • Phone: 512.499.4389
  • Fax: 512.499.4523