Email Safety Tips

Last modified 3/16/2022

Email safety tips help users determine if an email is legitimate and safe. The tips only display when certain conditions are met and should not be overlooked.

Types of Safety Tips

External Sender

External sender safety tip example

The external sender safety tip is added to email messages that originate from outside of the Illinois State University email system. This primarily occurs when the sender address does not include,, or another official University domain.

Upcoming Change

A change to the language and formatting of this safety tip is underway. While it has not been finalized, the following image provides a sample of what is planned.

Planned external sender safety tip update

First Contact

First contact safety tip example

The first contact safety tip is added to email messages that have senders new to you. This can occur for internal and external senders.

A variation of this safety tip occurs when an email is sent to multiple people and the email system determines that the sender is new for the majority of recipients.

First contact safety tip alternative example

Possible Impersonation

Possible impersonation safety tip example

The possible impersonation safety tip is added to email messages that have senders similar but ultimately different than known contacts. This primarily occurs when the sender display name matches the display name of someone at the University, or that you have messaged previously, but has a different email address.

Using the Safety Tips

If you receive an email with one or more of these safety tips, you should take a moment to make sure it is legitimate and safe.

Check the sender email address

Email software allows users to set their display name as they prefer. Threat actors will use this feature to impersonate legitimate people in an organization. Checking the email address can help you identify when this occurs.

Consider the following when checking the sender email address:

  • Does the domain in the email address fit for the type of communication?
    • Is it an .edu domain for other education institutions or .gov for government agencies?
    • Would someone from a company use personal email services for official business?
    • If they are an ISU member, are they using their address?
  • Does the address include unusual information before the @ symbol?
    • Does it reference "ilstu" (e.g.
    • Does it reference a title that does not fit with the individual (e.g.

Check the email content

Safety tips are primarily focused on the sender of an email. They do not provide guidance for attachments, links, or other content in the message.

Consider the following when checking the email content:

  • Does the email include an unusual request for the person?
  • Is there an attachment on the email that when opened, requires disabling security settings or opening a website?
  • Does the email signature reflect the correct information for the individual?

Needing Assistance?

For technical assistance, Submit a Help Ticket, or contact the Technology Support Center at (309) 438-4357 or by email at

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