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phishing

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]

Increase in phishing attacks

Wednesday, April 3rd, 2019

Phishing attacks are on the increase due to staff and students replying to phishing emails or entering their usernames and passwords on suspicious websites.

This not only poses a security risk for the user, but also for their colleagues and more importantly, for the safety of our entire university network.

Please do not reply to any email requesting your username and password, even if it’s seemingly from someone you know. This information is used by phishing attackers to target our students and staff. By supplying your private information you are making it much easier for them to access accounts and the network.

If you think your account has been compromised or notice suspicious activity:

  • Immediately change your password on www.sun.ac.za/password.
  • Contact the IT Service Desk by logging a request or calling 808 4367.
  • More information on phishing is available on our blog and Twitter.

Protecting yourself from spearphishing attacks

Tuesday, March 12th, 2019

For a large enterprise like Stellenbosch University phishing attacks are the most common cybercrime.

In the late 1990s and early 2000s, we were all inundated with spam emails, selling everything from fake pharmaceuticals to cheap perfumes. With spam, cybercriminals use a blanket approach sending emails to as many people as possible, hoping a few gullible customers will be funding further spam emails.

General “shotgun” phishing is still a problem today, but the past 18 months have seen a rise in a more sinister form of cyberattack,  spearphishing, which is much more targeted to an individual or an enterprise’s email system.

Spearphishing is similar to phishing, it’s also a vector for identity theft where cybercriminals try to get users to hand over personal and sensitive information without their knowledge.

Cybercriminals view phishing attacks as a profitable and an easy way to gain access to an enterprise enabling them to launch more sophisticated attacks, for example, spearphishing attacks. Humans are, after all,  the weakest link and thus the most effective target for criminals looking to infiltrate a network like the university.

Even though spearphishing is more focused than its less-sophisticated relative phishing, everyone can apply the following principles to protect yourself and the university against cybercriminal activity:

Use common sense when it comes to phishing attacks
Be sensible and smart while browsing online and checking your emails. 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. You should never click on links in an email to a website unless you are absolutely sure it’s authentic. If you have any doubt, open a new browser window and type the address into the address bar. Always be wary of emails asking for confidential information – especially if it asks for personal details or banking information. The university and your bank will never request sensitive information via email. They do not need it. They have it all already.

Watch out for shortened links
Pay particularly close attention to shortened links, especially on social media. Cybercriminals often use Bit.ly, Tinyurl.com, Goo.gl or Tr.im to trick you into thinking you are clicking a legitimate link when in fact, you are being inadvertently directed to a fake site. 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. They will be filled with plenty of spelling mistakes, CAPITALISATION and exclamation marks. They will also have impersonal salutations – e.g. ‘Dear Valued Customer’ or ‘Dear Sir/Madam’ salutations – and will have implausible and generally suspicious content. Cybercriminals will often intentionally make mistakes in their emails bypass spam filters and improve responses. 

Be wary of threats and urgent deadlines
Sometimes the university does need you to do something urgently, however, this is an exception rather the rule. For example, you all have been getting reminders to reactivate your network account by the end of March. Threats and urgency, especially coming from what claims to be a legitimate company, are a giveaway sign of phishing. Some of these threats may include notices of a fine or advising you to take action to stop your account from being closed. Ignore the scare tactics and rather contact the company via phone.

Browse securely with HTTPS
You should always, where possible, use a secure website, indicated by https:// and a security “lock” icon in the browser’s address bar, to browse. This is particularly important when submitting sensitive information online, such as credit card details.

Never use public, unsecured Wi-Fi, including MatiesWiFi, for banking, shopping or entering personal information online. Convenience should never be more important than safety. When in doubt, use your mobile’s 3/4G or LTE connection.

[ARTICLE by David Wiles]

Phishing attempt: “SARS eFiling Letter notification”

Thursday, January 31st, 2019

An email with the subject “SARS eFiling Letter Notification” was sent from a staff email to staff and students on campus. The email asks you to click on a link to download your SARS documents (See example below)

This is not a legitimate SARS email, but a phishing attempt from a compromised sun email account.

SARS will never ask you to provide any personal information by means of email. By clicking on links and providing your information, you give criminals access to your personal information and your accounts.

If you clicked on the link in this phishing email, immediately change your password on www.sun.ac.za/password. For enquiries contact the IT Service Desk by logging a request or calling 808 4367. More information on phishing is available on our blog and Twitter.

Click for a larger version.

Phishing attempt from sun email account

Wednesday, December 5th, 2018

If you receive an email from a sun email account with the subject “To All Faculty\Staff of Stellenbosch University“, asking you to click on a link to upgrade your webmail, please do not respond and provide your information (see example at the bottom of this post).

This is not a legitimate email notification from Information Technology and we will never ask you to give your personal information via an email link. The suspicious email is being sent from a compromised email account and is a clever phishing attempt.

When you click on links and provide your information on phishing emails, criminals will be able to gain access to your personal information. If you clicked on the link of this phishing email, immediately change your password on www.sun.ac.za/password.

For any enquiries please contact the IT Service Desk by logging a request or calling 808 4367. More information on phishing is available on our blog and Twitter.

Click for larger image

 

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