Keep Learning and Stay Aware

Training and Vigilance Kept This Employee from Getting Scammed

Like most of us, Alissa Jones does not work in cybersecurity. Prior to coming to work at the University of Illinois, the cybersecurity training she received was word of mouth, and it contained only simple advice like, protect your password.

The quarterly cybersecurity training for UIUC employees has broadened her knowledge and ability to keep her personal and professional data safe.

And Jones says she was ‘saved’ by completing online cybersecurity training and the heightened awareness because of it. She shared her almost-incident with the Cybersecurity Training and Awareness Team.

“I literally got a call this morning during a meeting, and the voicemail was about ‘my student loans’ that I thought was real. I was going to call back over lunch, but after taking the module, it made realize the voicemail was likely a scam.

 Sure enough, I did some research on the phone number they left me to call back before calling, and it confirmed it was a scam call.

I don’t know what headache you all saved me from if I had called them back, but you definitely saved me!!!”


Jones is a Visiting Instructional Design and Technology Coordinator in the College of Education, so has years of experience with training and how it is delivered and received.

“Working in education I think about how people learn,” she said. And she noted how she appreciates the ways that cybersecurity trainings consider different learning styles. “For me, it’s best to read something and have a reference to it.” Others have different preferences, such as listening to training or practicing something new to learn it.

“They do a good job of highlighting the everyday issues. Some I didn’t even know were an issue. It provides new information to me,” she added.

“You don’t know what you don’t know. The trainings make me feel more confident and secure about how to follow up. I now know how to report things. And training gives you the tools you need if something seems off.”

Training helps with your professional life

Cybersecurity modules demonstrate what to look out for, and Jones found it easy to apply what she learned.

Scammers take advantage of inattention and of our tendency to gravitate toward the familiar. Jones appreciated the reminder to be vigilant.

“Working at the U of I, your name is out there. My email is tied to a conference website. I get emails from people looking to help us plan our conferences. I am more sensitive about looking at those emails because they could be phishing. I also do more research. Like for U of I emails, if I don’t know them and if I can’t find that person in the UI directory, then it might be phishing.”

Cybersecurity training provides help with digital life beyond the university

Training also helped her to be aware of messages from recognizable entities.

Scammers can use a variation of the email by changing a dot or a letter. Unfortunately, this scam happened to her mom. “She received an email about a ‘going out of business’ sale from a store she knew was closing. She visited the website and noticed the shopping experience was different. She went ahead and bought her items, and then sent me the email about the sale. I looked at the email address and based on the training I realized it was likely a scam. (Over time we learned it definitely was a scam!) But because of my training, she was able to report the fraud quickly to her bank and hopefully help others.” Jones said. Anyone with a valid University of Illinois email address can take cybersecurity training at

Complacency can result in compromise

It can happen to anyone, and training is a wonderful way to stay ahead of scammers with bad intentions, Jones noted.

“Don’t brush off the training. I work a technical job and am careful, but things are getting so sophisticated, it is hard for even an expert. Keep learning and stay aware.”