spear phishing

MAILBOX FULL phishing message

Tuesday, August 15th, 2017

A phishing email with the subject MAILBOX FULL has been sent from an internal SU staff member’s account. (See below for example with links removed)

Remember that spear-phishing email always appears to come from a trusted source like a university address and because it might seem to come from someone we know personally, there is a greater potential danger. Note that even if it says Microsoft, there’s no indication of branding. Official communication from IT will always be branded and look the same. Also, note the multiple spelling errors and suspiciously bad language. 

Do NOT click on any of the included links in the email or enter your username or password. You should never do this at any time. If you follow the link and supply your information, it will be used by phishing criminals to gain access to your bank details. 

If you have any inquiries, please let us know by logging a request on ServiceNow or calling our Service Desk at 808 4367. For more information on this and other phishing attacks, refer to our blog and Twitter account.

From: SU Staff, Mev <>
Sent: Tuesday, 15 August 2017 12:18 PM
Subject: Mailbox Full

Your mailbox is full and you have 3 mails pending. kindly increase the storage capacity of your mailbox account. Increase the storage capacity by clicking below

             storage increase

Fill out the instruction in order to increase the storage capacity to continue using your email account inorder to avoid being disconnected.

©Copyright 2017 Microsoft

All Right Reserved.

Phishing and whaling

Friday, February 5th, 2016

Recently we gave you some pointers on identifying phishing e-mails. So now that you know all the signs and how to outwit the criminals, there’s another variant – spear phishing. But don’t panic, it’s almost the same, with a bit of a twist.

Spear phishing is an e-mail that seems to be sent from an individual or business you know. Of course it’s really from hackers attempting to obtain you credit card, bank account numbers, passwords and financial information.

These types of attacks focus on a single user or department within an organisation and use another staff member from the organisation’s name to gain the victim’s trust. (Also see our recent article on the incident at Finance.)

They often appear to be from your company’s human resources or IT department, requesting staff to update information, for example passwords or account details. Alternatively the e-mail might contain a link, which will execute spyware when clicked on.

But wait, there are even more fishing comparisons.

When a phishing attack is directed specifically at senior executives, other high profile staff or seemingly wealthy people, it’s called whaling. By whaling cyber criminals are trying to catch the “big phish”, or whale.




New cyber crime e-mail targets individuals

Wednesday, January 13th, 2016

Over the past two weeks a new e-mail scam has reared its head on campus. Scammers use contact information, available on the internet, to target individuals at the university.

One example is an e-mail which has been sent to various staff at the Finance department with a request to transfer money. (see e-mail with inactive addresses below)

The e-mail is sent from a gmail address, but the display name is a SU staff member’s name. Since the cyber criminal also saw the contact person’s name on the website (in this case Finance’s website), they address the receiver personally as, for example, Karin.

Similar scams use fax numbers available on the internet and then a fax is sent directly to the contact person.

Do not, under any circumstances, react to these e-mails. It is clearly an attempt to attract your attention and convince you to conduct a financial transaction. Delete and ignore the e-mail.

Report suspicious e-mail to and also read our articles on security on our blog, as well as the fortnightly newsletter, Bits & Bytes.


FROM: Stellenbosch University staff member name<>
TO: Stellenbosch University staff member name<>


Let me know if you can process a same day domestic bank transfer to a client. You will code it to professional services

The amount is R870,000, kindly confirm so i can forward the appropriate beneficiary details to enable instant clearance.


Sent from my iPhone


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