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Why is cyber security important?

Tuesday, October 5th, 2021

Cyber security is the skill and ability of protecting networks, devices, and data from unlawful access or criminal use and the practice of guaranteeing confidentiality, integrity, and availability of information.

Communication, transportation, shopping, and medicine are just some of the things that rely on computers systems and the Internet now. Much of your personal information is stored either on your computer, smartphone, tablet or possibly on someone else’s system. Knowing how to protect the information that you have stored is of high importance not just for an individual but for an organisation and those in it.

Did you know that:

  • As of 2021, there is a ransomware attack every 11 seconds, up from 39 seconds in 20191,2
  • 43% of cyber-attacks target of small businesses, and they have grown 400 percent since the outbreak began

More tips and resources can be found here

The US government’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency has made a collection of tip sheets available for use. These downloadable PDF documents contain all the information you need to protect yourself from cyber security risks in a convenient, compact format. 

More tips and resources can be found here

[SOURCE:  Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, United States Government

Cybersecurity Awareness Month: Creating strong passwords

Tuesday, October 5th, 2021

Before we pointed out that most people underestimate the importance of having a secure password, and still make the mistake of using simple words and numbers as a password.

Keep in mind that your email and social network accounts contain very personal information about you. You must have a strong password to keep your personal life personal, and not become a victim of identity theft. 

  • Using email or your profile on Facebook, Whatsapp or Google, hackers can and do, extract a huge amount of personal data of your personal “online” life.
  • If you use the same password for multiple online accounts, you run the risk, if this password is hacked, of all your online accounts being compromised.
  • Using a personal name for an online account, the name of the city that you live in, the names of your children or your date of birth, give hackers vital clues for attempting to access your personal data.
  • For an average expert hacker, it is always easy to find passwords that are made up of words from the English vocabulary or other languages, using a basic technique called “brute force” or “dictionary” attacks.

What makes a password safe?

  1. A password at least 8 characters long.
  2. The password does not contain information that is easy to find online, such as the date of birth, the telephone number, your spouse’s name, the name of a pet, or a child’s name.
  3. The password does not contain words found in the dictionary.
  4. The password contains special characters like @ # $% ^ &, and numbers.
  5. The password uses a combination of uppercase and lowercase letters.

A trick that the experts use to create secure passwords:

Think of a phrase and use the first letters of the words in the phrase.

  • For example: “In South Africa, a barbecue is called a Braai!”
  • Take the first letters of each word and the password that is created is ISAabicaB!
  • This will be very difficult to guess, but easy to remember.
  • At this point, you can decide to make your the Google password is ISAabicaB!-G,  and Facebook ISAabicaB!-F and your university account  ISAabicaB!-US and so on.
  • There is already a capital letter and a special character (!), so you just need to add a number to finish off a good password like 9-ISAabicaB!-US (9 could be the month you created the password in – for example)

You will have already made your password a lot more difficult to hack, and it can be a lot of fun to create. 

How do I report phishing?

Tuesday, October 5th, 2021

You’ve received a suspicious email, what should you do with it? Firstly, don’t click on any links. But just as important, send it to us so we can prevent more staff and students falling prey to the scam. We encourage our customers to submit potential phishing examples for review. Using these submissions, the Cyber Security Incident Response Team (CSIRT) can learn from the analysis of these messages. This collectively helps to improve the level of virus and spam detection.

What is phishing?

Phishing attacks are designed to steal a person’s login and password details so that the cyber criminal can assume control of the victim’s social network, email, and online bank accounts. Seventy percent of internet users choose the same password for almost every web service they use. This is why phishing is so effective, as the criminal, by using the same login details, can access multiple private accounts and manipulate them for their own good. 

More on how to recognise a phishing email. 

Report phishing

On the ICT Partner Portal:

*Spam or phishing examples must be sent in either.EML or .MSG format as an attachment and must not be forwarded. This ensures the original email can be analysed with its full Internet message headers intact. Alternatively, use the mail application to save the email (usually located under File | Save As) as an .EML or .MSG format to a folder location, and attach the saved file to a new email.

Spear phishing attack using a staff email

Monday, September 20th, 2021

If you receive an e-mail from Prof. Wolfgang Preiser – Head of the Department of Virology asking about a “PAYMENT”, you might be tempted to quickly answer and offer your assistance.

However, this was a spear-phishing scam designed to fool its victims into thinking the mail was sent out by someone like Prof Preiser.

We are getting several reports from personnel within his department saying that they are getting e-mail from Prof. Preiser and were concerned if his e-mail account has been compromised and if this is a phishing attack.

Here is what the phishing scam looks like.

An example of the spear phishing email using Prof Preiser's details

Click for a larger image.

Please note that the name, has been forged and that a “throwaway” e-mail address has been used with forged details inserted. The Professor’s account has not been compromised. 

The message below also serves as a warning and should give you an indication that this is not an email from an @sun address. Do not click links or open attachments unless you recognise the sender and know the content is safe.

CAUTION: This email originated from outside of the University. 

Additionally there is a standard warning from Microsoft to also warn you.

This is a spear-phishing attack where an institution is attacked by impersonating prominent or public figures within the enterprise to gain access to the enterprise. The targets in this method of attack are usually subordinates of high-ranking personnel, to fool them into sending money or obtaining personal details of these personnel members.

Keep an eye open for this scam, and please report it to IT Cyber Security if you find it in your inbox by logging it on the ICT Partner Portal. Fill in your information and add the email as an attachment. Your request will automatically be logged on the system.​​

If you accidentally clicked on the link and already gave any personal details to the scammers it is vitally important that you immediately go to the USERADM page (either or and change your password immediately.

Make sure the new password is completely different and a strong password that will not be easily guessed. Also change the passwords on your social media and private e-mail accounts, especially if you use the same passwords on these accounts.

Contact the IT Service Desk if you are still unsure.


Phishing scam: “Proof of Payment”

Friday, August 27th, 2021

Over 2 billion people worldwide have purchased goods or services online during the pandemic. The danger of all this convenient shopping with Takealot, Checkers or any online store is that people provide their credit card number without diligence.

One of the most prevalent scams NOW is called POP or Proof of Payment Receipt. There are a number of new phishing scams with the subject “Proof of Payment” or “Suspicious Bank transaction” at the moment. 

Here is one such scam that is currently being reported by personnel and students at Tygerberg. 

Click for larger image

Click for larger image

The way that this scam works is that the scammers are trying to get their victims to click on the link and go to a specially engineered site to steal passwords and login credentials. Often bank account details and cell phone numbers are asked for, and this is how the scammers get access to bank accounts and can do SIM swaps, to steal money and personal details.

Notice how the mail details have been forged to make the sender and the recipient the same. This is to disguise the true sender and to bypass the mail filters which would normally accept mail from within an organisation. In this case this sender used a “throw-away” e-mail address and then forged the headers to change the sender. In this case there is a possibility that the government address has been compromised.

If you get one of these e-mails or one similar looking (scammers change tactics very quickly) please report it to IT on the ICT Partner Portal. Fill in your information and add the email as an attachment. Your request will automatically be logged on the system.​​

Secondly blacklist the sender under Junk mail, and perhaps even block the entire domain. You can do this by using the Report Message add-in on Outlook (available on your toolbar on the far right) More about the add-in on our blog or you can find the instructions on this .PDF




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