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Compromised student account used for phishing

Tuesday, April 18th, 2017

Just because mail seems to come from a university address, doesn’t mean to say that it is legitimate.

The latest phishing scam making its rounds at the university is being sent from a compromised student account. The subject line is all in capital letters and is meant to frighten you into clicking on a link and filling in your details. This is probably how the student account that is now sending it was originally compromised.

This is a typical phishing scam. Do not respond or click on any of the links. Many thanks to all the observant students who picked it up and pointed it out to us.

Below is an example of the mail (with the dangerous bits removed)


From: Compromised, Student account <>
Sent: Monday, 17 April 2017 12:19 PM
To: fake@email.address


Certify Your email HERE


Don’t Be Fooled. Protect Yourself and Your Identity

Wednesday, April 5th, 2017

According to the US Department of Justice, more than 17 million Americans were victims of identity theft in 2014. EDUCAUSE research shows that 21 percent of respondents to the annual ECAR student study have had an online account hacked, and 14 percent have had a computer, tablet, or smartphone stolen. Online fraud is an ongoing risk. The following tips can help you prevent identity theft.

  • Read your credit card, bank, and pay statements carefully each month. Look for unusual or unexpected transactions. Remember also to review recurring bill charges and other important personal account information.
  • Review your health insurance plan statements and claims. Look for unusual or unexpected transactions.
  • Shred it! Shred any documents with personal, financial, or medical information before you throw them away.
  • Take advantage of free annual credit reports. In South Africa TransUnion, Experian and CompuShare can provide these reports.
  • If a request for your personal info doesn’t feel right, do not feel obligated to respond! Legitimate companies won’t ask for personal information such as your ID number, password, or account number in a pop-up ad, e-mail, SMS, or unsolicited phone call.
  • Limit the personal information you share on social media. Also, check your privacy settings every time you update an application or operating system (or at least every few months).
  • Put a password on it. Protect your online accounts and mobile devices with strong, unique passwords or passphrases.
  • Limit use of public Wi-Fi. Be careful when using free Wi-Fi, which may not be secure. Do not access online banking information or other sensitive accounts from public Wi-Fi.
  • Secure your devices. Encrypt your hard drive, use a VPN, and ensure that your systems, apps, antivirus software, and plug-ins are up-to-date.


What is the junk e-mail folder?

Tuesday, February 28th, 2017

Just before the weekend, we became aware of a particularly intrusive and persistent phishing attack. An e-mail, seemingly from Standard Bank, was distributed from a staff member’s e-mail account after being hacked.

In order to prevent the attack from causing more damage to other e-mail users, stricter spam filter measures had to be implemented over the weekend. After this time period, the filter was reset to its default.

These measures caused some e-mails that weren’t spam, to divert to Outlook’s Junk Mail folder. They were not deleted, but they weren’t visible in inboxes.

Even though it is advisable that you occasionally check your Junk mail folder, it seems some staff aren’t familiar with the folder or it’s function.

The Microsoft Outlook Junk E-mail Filter helps reduce unwanted email messages in your Inbox. Junk e-mail, also known as spam, is moved by the filter away to the Junk E-mail folder.

How the Junk E-mail filter works

The Junk E-mail Filter evaluates each incoming message to assess whether it might be spam, based on several factors. These can include the time when the message was sent and the content of the message. By default, the Junk E-mail Filter is turned on and the protection level is set to Low. This level catches only the most obvious spam. You can make the filter more aggressive by changing the level of protection that it provides.

You can adjust the Junk E-mail Filter settings in the Junk E-mail Options dialogue box.

  • On the Home tab, in the Delete group, click Junk, and then click Junk E-mail Options.

Any message that is suspected to be junk is moved to the Junk E-mail folder. We recommend that you periodically review the messages in the Junk E-mail folder to check for legitimate messages that were incorrectly classified as junk. If you find a message that isn’t junk, drag them back to the Inbox or to any folder. You can also mark the item as not junk by doing the following:

  • On the Home tab, in the Delete group, click Junk, and then click Not Junk.

More detailed instructions can be found on the Office365 Knowledgebase and on Microsoft’s website.

We apologise for the inconvenience and confusion caused by these emergency measures. If you have any questions, please contact the IT Service Desk at 021 808 4367 or


Latest WhatsApp hoax

Monday, January 9th, 2017

If you are a user of the popular chat app WhatsApp, you should be aware of the latest hoax that states that the chat service will soon start charging a fee.

Here is an example of the current hoax:

Tomorrow at 6 pm they are ending WhatsApp and you have to pay to open it, this is by law. 

This message is to inform all of our users, our servers have recently been very congested, so we are asking you to help us solve this problem. We require our active users to forward this message to each of the people in their contact list to confirm our active users using WhatsApp. 

If you do not send this message to all your contacts WhatsApp will start to charge you. 

The message is allegedly sent from Whatsapp’s chief executive officer – Jim Balsamic.

  1. The real CEO of WhatsApp is Jan Koum.
  2. WhatsApp publically declared that they’ll never charge users for the service. [ ]

This isn’t the first time this sort of hoax has plagued the web – a similar message was sent around in 2013.

In some cases, it was reported that victims of this hoax were “tricked” into opening a legitimate-looking Word, Excel or PDF document attached to a WhatsApp message. The PDF attachment then downloaded malware to devices to steal personal information.

Another student reported that one message they received tried to persuade them to download a R200 Edgars voucher. In reality, the link simply installed cookies and a browser extension on their phone that flooded the phone with adverts.

Always be wary of messages with the following characteristics:

  1. The person sending the message claims to be associated with WhatsApp.
  2. The message contains instructions telling you to forward the message. (Use a bit of common sense here. According to this hoax message, WhatsApp servers are “very congested” and Jim Balsamic want you to add to the congestion by forwarding the message to all your WhatsApp contacts?)
  3. The message says you will suffer some sort of punishment, like account suspension, if you don’t follow the instructions.
  4. The message promises a reward or gift from Whatsapp or another party.
  5. Just because a message was forwarded to you by a friend or family member, doesn’t make it legitimate. (friends and family can be just as gullible as any other person)


Scam warning: UPS Parcel Receipt with infected attachment

Wednesday, November 30th, 2016

The holiday season is upon us and there is a lot of activity around this time of the year with parcels being delivered both at home and at the university. This is being exploited by the scammers.

There is currently a UPS scam making its rounds in university mailboxes, where victims are lured into clicking a download link.

If you have received a package via the parcel company like UPS or DHL, you might be tempted open up an e-mail that seems to come from them, saying they have a package for you. There might be an attachment that you are asked to open to confirm your address or to fill in your personal details for “verification”.

The whole thing is a scam. Clicking on the attachment will download a Trojan virus onto your computer which will just sit there doing its nefarious work — reading your files, including confidential information, then transmitting the details to a server somewhere that is controlled by the criminals.

It seems there are two main variations of this “parcel delivery” scam – both looking like a genuine notification.

  • The first one tells you the parcel service tried, but was unable to deliver a package to you because of an incorrect address. The subject heading usually has a phony tracking number. The attachment is supposedly a copy of a waybill or invoice for you to print and use to collect the parcel from a UPS office.
  • The second is a customs notification and may even seem to come from “US Customs Service” rather than UPS. It says you have an international package (usually from Europe) and that you need to complete the attached customs form so it can be delivered.

In both these cases, the attachment is a compressed ZIP file (that is, one with a name that ends in “.zip”), even though the icon may look like a Word document. As soon as you double click on it, it will install a program onto your computer will then download and install several files on your system. These may disable your firewall, look for and steal credit card and bank account details, make screen snapshots and allow hackers full access to your machine.

This attack underlines the danger of opening an attached file in an email, even if it appears to come from a person or organization you know or frequently deal with.

Here is an example of one such mail.



From: Usps Parcel []

Sent: 28 November 2016 07:29 AM

To: Recipients <>

Subject: Parcel Receipt


USPS Shipment Notification

A parcel was sent to our office for you and we have tried to deliver it several times to your address on file.

Attached is the receipt via Dropbox, used in sending you the parcel. We advise you DOWNLOAD the document and reconfirm the address on receipt if its your valid address.

For further assistance, please call USPS Customer Service.

For International Customer Service, please use official USPS site.


Copyright © 2016 USPS. All Rights Reserved.

This message has been scanned for viruses and dangerous content by Fair Distribution MailScanner, and is believed to be clean. 


So do not succumb to the temptation of opening up attachments in emails, especially if it comes from couriers and parcel delivery companies like UPS or DHL. It is the end of the year. Our energy and concentration is ebbing and we are all more vulnerable, making us all potential targets of the cyber-criminal.



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