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How to avoid phishing scams

Friday, May 24th, 2019

We are often asked by staff and students what they can do to stop phishing scams, and what software they should install to prevent them from becoming victims. In some cases students have asked us to fix their computers and to install software to block phishing scams.

Of course that request is impossible to fulfil. Phishing scams are like the common cold. Just like you cannot prevent the common cold, you can only adopt a lifestyle, and take precautionary measures to reduce your risk of infection. They will always be there and will always adapt and change. As long as there are people who are uninformed or careless who fall for these scams, phishing attacks will continue.

The best way to reduce your risk is to report all suspected phishing scams on ICT Partner Portal. (Full details at the end of this post). Here are some basic rules to help you to identify phishing scams:

  • Use common sense
    Never click on links, download files or open attachments in email or social media, even if it appears to be from a known, trusted source.
  • Watch out for shortened links
    Pay particularly close attention to shortened links. Always place your mouse over a web link in an email (known as “hovering”) to see if you’re being sent to the right website.
  • Does the email look suspicious?
    Read it again. Many phishing emails are obvious and will have implausible and generally suspicious content.
  • Be wary of threats and urgent deadlines
    Threats and urgency, especially coming from what claims to be a legitimate company, are a giveaway sign of phishing. Ignore the scare tactics and rather contact the company via phone.
  • Browse securely with HTTPS
    Always, where possible, use a secure website, indicated by https:// and a security “lock” icon in the browser’s address bar, to browse.
  • Never use public, unsecured Wi-Fi, including Maties Wi-Fi, for banking, shopping or entering personal information online
    Convenience should never be more important than safety.

If you do receive a phishing e-mail, please report it as soon as possible. Once you have reported the spam or phishing mail, you can delete it immediately.

You can report this on IT’s request logging system, the ICT Partner Portal.

  • Go to the ICT Partner Portal.
  • Fill in your information and add the email as an attachment. Your request will automatically be logged on the system and the appropriate measures will be taken by the system administrators to protect the rest of campus.

[ARTICLE BY DAVID WILES]

Cybersecurity Awareness Month: Common passwords

Wednesday, October 3rd, 2018

The past two years have been particularly devastating for data security worldwide, with a number of well-publicised hacks, data breaches and extortion attempts.

Annually SplashData publishes a list of the most common passwords. The list is created using data from more than five million passwords that were leaked by hackers in 2018 and with a quick glance at the list, one thing is clear – we do not learn from our mistakes.

People continue to use easy-to-guess passwords to protect their information. For example, “123456” and “password” retain their top two spots on the list—for the fifth consecutive year and variations of these two “worst passwords” make up six of the remaining passwords on the list.

SplashData estimates almost 10% of people have used at least one of the 25 worst passwords on this year’s list, and nearly 3% of people have used the worst password – 123456.

Here is the list of the top 10 passwords of 2018:

  1. 123456
  2. password
  3. 12345678
  4. qwerty
  5. 12345
  6. 123456789
  7. letmein
  8. 1234567
  9. football
  10. iloveyou

Another typical example is 1q2w3e4r5t.  Although it seems very cryptic, one look at a computer keyboard and it’s easy to guess.

Not so clever passsword

It is a sobering fact that most people still underestimate the importance of having a secure password, and still make mistake to use simple words or numbers as a password.

“Passwords are the only control you have to secure your data with most systems these days. If your password is easily guessed by someone, then the person essentially becomes you. Use the same password across services and devices, and they can take over your digital identity.” Shaun Murphy, CEO of SNDR.

In the next post of our Cyber Aware Month series, we look at how to create a strong password you can remember.

 

E-mail scam with subject: “morning”

Wednesday, December 13th, 2017

It seems that scammers are now attempting to use student e-mail addresses to send out spam. 

If you get mail with the subject of “morning”, supposedly coming from a student account (studentnumber@sun.ac.za) with the following content, please ignore and delete it.

We are conducting a  standard process investigation involving a late client who  shares the same surname with you and also the circumstances surrounding investments made by this client.Are you aware of  any relative/relation having the same surname? Send email to: scammer@scam.com

This is a typical Nigerian 419 Advance Fee scam. Do not respond to this mail. The scammers just want to see who will respond so they can con you out of some money.

A reminder again of how to correctly report spam and phishing scams:

Send the spam/phishing mail to the following addresses: 

help@sun.ac.za and sysadm@sun.ac.za.

 Attach the phishing or suspicious mail on to the message if possible. There is a good tutorial on how to do this at the following link (which is safe): http://stbsp01.stb.sun.ac.za/innov/it/it-help/Wiki%20Pages/Spam%20sysadmin%20Eng.aspx

  1. Start up a new mail addressed to sysadm@sun.ac.za (CC: help@sun.ac.za)
  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 HAVE FALLEN FOR THE SCAM:

If you did click on the link of this phishing spam and unwittingly give the scammers your username, e-mail address and password you should immediately go to http://www.sun.ac.za/useradm 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 e-mail accounts (especially if you use the same passwords on these accounts.)

IT has set up a website page with useful information on how to report and combat phishing and spam. The address is: http://blogs.sun.ac.za/it/en/2017/11/reporting-spam-malware-and-phishing/

As you can see the address has a sun.ac.za at the end of the domain name, so it is legitimate. We suggest bookmarking this.

[Article by David Wiles]

 

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