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Sending emails to large groups

Monday, August 6th, 2018

Occasionally it is necessary to send emails to external students or other large groups of people who are not part of the sun domain. If you are currently using Outlook distribution lists we recommend that you switch to the much more user-friendly and functional Sympa mailing list management platform. 

For many years the university has been using Sympa as mass mailing solution successfully. In fact, many of our staff and students use it to administer their lists. 

Sympa is a mailing list management (MLM) software and has its roots in the academic computing community in France. Its name, which is an acronym for Système de Multi-Postage Automatique (i.e. Automatic Mailing System), also means “nice” or “friendly” in French. We’re not sure exactly why the French decided to call their mailing list system “nice”, but we can confirm that it is “friendly” to use.

By using Sympa as a platform for your group emails, you will have better control over your emails and access to handy functions such as:

  • appoint one or several moderators;
  • manage subscriptions and unsubscriptions;
  • add a shared document web space at the subscribers’ disposal;
  • answer questions from subscribers and potential subscribers about the list
  • read the list archive;
  • search in the message archive;
  • review members of the list;

As you can see, Sympa offers much more functionality than your normal Outlook distribution list. Any staff member can use Sympa, simply go to
If you need any assistance in setting up your Sympa distribution list, please send an email to or call us at 808 4367.

Before you resign or retire …

Tuesday, July 31st, 2018

You’ve packed up your office, said goodbye to your colleagues and you are ready for your new job. But what happens to your sun email address, your data or any electronic services you used while working at Stellenbosch University? We have a few tips and instructions. 

As soon as your active role as staff expires, all your electronic services also terminate. This process is necessary to maintain a healthy and secure network and to ensure that unused, dormant accounts are not used for nefarious purposes by cybercriminals.

In other words, from the date when your service at SU is terminated, you no longer have an active role at the university and you can no longer use university services. In this event, you will receive an email from informing you that your username will expire.

To ensure that you are prepared in advance, we also suggest you do the following at least three months before you leave the university:

  1. Create a new email address for yourself (if you don’t have one already) There are various options, for example, Gmail or Yahoo.
  2. Activate your Out of Office function on you Outlook mailbox and indicate in the message what your new email address is, in case someone needs to contact you. 
  3. If you use your @sun address for your banking, Facebook, DSTV or iCloud accounts or any other services or social media, change it to your new email address. We would also like to urge you to keep your work-related and private emails separate. Rather create a private email address for your personal correspondence.
  4. If you have any personal data on your electronic work devices or network storage (G: or H: drive), remove it and store it on your own external hard drive or online cloud storage, for example, Google Drive or OneDrive
  5. Make sure that your relevant work-related data is accessible for further usage by your colleagues and the university after you leave. However, do NOT give your password to colleagues when you leave the university as this poses a security risk.
  6. If you need any assistance, contact Information Technology and one of our technicians can assist you.

Students who are graduating or terminating their studies can find the necessary information on this pamphlet compiled by the IT HUB.

Warning: Phishing scam exploiting ABSA new logo

Tuesday, July 17th, 2018

Many of you use ABSA as your bank of choice, as well as making use of ABSA Bank’s Internet Banking facilities, so this warning might be of particular significance.

Earlier this month ABSA announced a new logo – part of its rebranding campaign – and almost immediately phishing scammers exploited this opportunity to continue their nefarious campaign of identity theft through phishing email attacks.

Several users have reported getting the following email – allegedly from ABSA – taking advantage of the new logo to target the bank’s customers in a phishing email scam by attempting to trick users to click on a link to take them to a fake website.

The scam email states that it comes from Absa CEO Maria Ramos, but it’s actually from an outside source and informs victims that “today marks a very significant day in the Absa journey”. The email uses Absa’s slogan, saying “We are also launching a new, fresh and vibrant Absa logo and identity that reflects our commitment to you, our customers”. Potential victims are then encouraged to click on their “New Absa eStatements” in PDF format. This is not a statement, but an HTML file which takes users to a phishing website.

Here is one example of the phishing e-mail which has already appeared in several University email accounts, as well as personal home email accounts:


















As always, you should never respond to a suspicious looking email or message or click on a link in any suspicious looking email. Rather delete the email. No South African bank will ever contact customers and request sensitive information (card PIN, card CVV or online banking password) via email, telephone or SMS.

If you have received a phishing email, immediately report it to the Information Technology CyberSecurity Team using the following method:
1. Start up a new mail addressed to (CC:
2. Use the Title “SPAM” (without quotes) in the Subject.
3. With this New Mail window open, drag the suspicious spam/phishing mail from your Inbox into the New Mail Window. It will attach the mail as an enclosure and a small icon with a light yellow envelope will appear in the attachments section of the New Mail.
4. Send the mail.

If you did click on the link of a phishing spam and unwittingly gave the scammers your username, email address and password  immediately go to and change the passwords on ALL your university accounts (making sure the new password is completely different and is a strong password that will not be easily guessed.), as well as changing the passwords on your social media and private email accounts (especially if you use the same passwords on these accounts.)
Useful information on how to report and combat phishing and spam can also be found on our blog


Phishing attempt from SUN email address

Monday, June 25th, 2018

If you receive an email with the subject “Mailbox” or “Urgent Alert !!” from a university account, do not respond to it or click on the link. This is not a legitimate email from Information Technology.

We have received reports that a suspicious email is being sent out from a university account informing users that their email has exceeded its storage limit and they have to click on a link to “avoid blockage or deactivation”(As shown in example)

If you follow the link and give your information, it will be used by phishing criminals to gain access to your personal information, including your bank details. If you did click on the link of this phishing email, immediately go to the website and change the passwords on all your university accounts.

If you have any inquiries, please let us know by logging a request or calling our Service Desk at 808 4367. 

New variant of BIP Dharma ransomware found

Monday, June 11th, 2018


Ransomware, for example, CryptoLocker, WannaCry or BIP Dharma, is a type of malware that installs itself on a device, takes files on the device or network storage, encrypts them, and then extorts money from the user to unlock the files.  This type of programme can be installed by means of an e-mail attachment, an infected programme or unsafe website with malware installed on it. 

The software “kidnaps” your data by encrypting or limiting your access to it and then sending you a message demanding money to regain your access. The only way access is possible again is by acquiring an encryption key from the creator of the ransomware at a fee. However, paying this fee doesn’t guarantee that you will have access to your data again, so doing this is a huge risk.

According to Sophos security ransomware is one of the most widespread and damaging threats that internet users face today. 


You can practice the following security practices to avoid falling victim to ransomware.

1. Make backups

Ensure that you always have the latest backup of your work somewhere else, preferably off-site. If you do fall for a ransomware attack, you will still have your data. Having your data off-site also protects it from events such as a fire, flood or theft or damage to your device. Additionally, you can encrypt your device to ensure that if it ends up in the wrong hands, they won’t be able to access it. 

2. Do not open attachments

If you receive an attachment from someone you don’t know. And even if you do know the person, first confirm whether they did send it to you. Just because it’s from someone you know, it doesn’t mean it’s safe. Your colleague or friend’s account could have been hacked. 

3. Scan attachments

There are tools such as VirusTotal available for scanning attachments to ensure that they are safe to open. VirusTotal is an online scanning tool and can be found at

4. Keep Windows updated

Make sure all Windows updates are installed as soon as they come out. Also make sure you update all programmes, especially Java, Flash, and Adobe Reader. Older programs contain security vulnerabilities that are commonly exploited by malware distributors. Therefore it is important to keep them updated.

5. Security software

Make sure you have some sort of security software installed. If you are unsure whether you have adequate protection on your device, contact us to assess your security.

6. Difficult password

Use hard passwords and never reuse the same password at multiple sites.





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