Home>Security & Data protection>Protect yourself from spam, phishing and viruses

Protect yourself from spam, phishing and viruses


Spam is an unsolicited email sent to a large number of recipients without their prior agreement. Some are just pranks, others are more malicious—attempts to acquire your banking information, for example (in which case it’s called “phishing”, see below).

Basic ground rules for avoiding spam

  • Avoid publishing your email address on the open web.
  • Do not use your Sciences Po email address to register for commercial web services; create a “junk” account instead, using a free email provider.
  • Do not participate in chain emails, which usually only convey false and useless information.
  • Before replying to an email, confirm the identity of the sender.


Phishing is a technique used to fraudulently obtain personal information in order to perpetrate identity theft. It consists in making the victim believe that they are dealing with a trusted third party (bank, public agency, etc.) in order to extract personal information such as passwords, credit card numbers, date of birth, etc. It is a form of online attack based on social engineering. It is usually done using email or fake websites, or even by telephone.

Five rules for protecting yourself against phishing

  • Confirm the email address of the sender: Is it really the address of your correspondent? Is the content of the message consistent with the identity of the sender?
  • Confirm the appropriateness of the information contained in the text. It should not contain an unusual number of grammatical, syntactical or spelling mistakes.
  • Confirm the coherence of the vocabulary used: for example, at Sciences Po we never use the term “computer support” or “assistance”, but rather "computer Helpdesk" or " SOS".
  • Confirm the consistency of the information requested with the practices and customs of the organization (frequency of password changes, for example).
  • Confirm any proposed links: for example, a request coming from Sciences Po would contain the sciencespo,fr or sciences-po.fr domains.

If you think you may have been “phished”, change your password immediately.

If you’re not sure, contact the Helpdesk.


A virus is a malicious program capable of infecting your files or your computer. It can result in different kinds of malfunction, hard drive erasure, etc.

To avoid contamination protect your computer by installing anti-virus software and updating it regularly. Never open an email attachment whose provenance or reliability you are not sure of. Sciences Po’s Information Systems Office has installed anti-virus software on all campus terminals, and regularly updates it.

For more information