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Office 365 is here

Friday, July 22nd, 2016

In 2014, due to rapidly increasing student numbers, Information Technology reassessed university’s e-mail configuration to avoid a shortage of storage space. Subsequently, student accounts were moved to Office 365, a cloud-based service which integrates with existing software used on campus.


At the moment, staff e-mail accounts are hosted and maintained locally on our Exchange servers. However, as with the student accounts, staff e-mail accounts will also be migrated to Office 365 within the next few months.

Initially only the e-mail service, Outlook, will be hosted in the cloud, but later staff will also have access to their documents wherever they go via Office 365 applications, e.g. OneDrive, Word, Excel and Powerpoint.

Other than a welcome increase in e-mail storage space to 50GB, there are various other advantages:

  • less archiving due to more storage space
  • saves time and increases productivity
  • a new and improved e-mail web interface
  • better availability
  • more secure

Little or no e-mail downtime is anticipated during the migration. Accounts will be moved in groups, per department, to ensure as little disruption as possible. Communication on the matter will be facilitated through the Head of Department and secretaries.

If you have any questions, please contact the IT Service Desk at 021 808 4367 or

SARS e-mail may fool users

Tuesday, October 15th, 2013

For some lucky people, it is time for the tax returns from SARS. The criminals know it too and every year at this time, users will get emails allegedly from SARS promising tax returns and asking you to click on a link, log in and provide your bank account details and password so they can pay you money!

This is a scam, and you should never respond or go to the site or open up the attached file, as this could compromise your banking security.

  1. SARS has your banking details on record and these are stored in secure and encrypted form. They do not need you to confirm or enter your banking details.
  2. SARS would always either SMS or send you a registered letter in the post to inform you of tax returns, etc. They would never contact you via unsecured e-mail, and furthermore they have enough of your data to address the mail to you PERSONALLY and not via some vague “Dear Taxpayer” salutation.
  3. There is no address
  4. The attached file is usually a html (webpage) file that gives you a forged webpage sitting on the criminals server somewhere overseas.
  5. The amount that they promise to pay you is always something like R9,250.75
  6. Unless you have added your university e-mail address as the primary contact address on the SARS system you should never get mail on your university account.

If you do go to this site and you do enter in your banking account details, credit card details, passwords etc, this will allow the criminals to log into your bank account via the internet, and take control over your bank account. They will create themselves as beneficiaries and then transfer all your money to their account, and then delete all the evidence pointing to their account.

These scam e-mails will never stop. It is always difficult to block them too because scammers change their addresses, details and methods on a daily basis. So it is always best to dump these mails in the junk mail folder, blacklist the sending domain and delete the mail immediately.

Why do these criminals continue to send their mail? Because they catch people regularly. In 2012 South Africa was the 5th most phished country in the world behind India, Canada, the USA and the UK, with estimated figures of R14 million being stolen from South Africans last year alone.



Attack of the trojans, bots & zombies

Friday, August 30th, 2013
Once of the most common questions we are asked by users is: How do these spammers get my e-mail address? Previously we looked at Rumpelstiltskin attacks and this week we will focus on the second of the methods –  by using Trojan Horses, Bots and Zombies. Now, thet may sound like something from a movie, but they do pose quite a serious threat to you as e-mail user.

Let us use a familiar example. You regularly exchange emails with your elderly mother who has a computer. Your mother uses Outlook or Thunderbird and has dozens of emails from you in her inbox. She even added you to her address book. She also has lots of emails from a distant family member – cousin Johan from Australia. You haven’t stayed in touch with Johan that closely over the years, but you definitely know who he is.

Last year, just before the Christmas, Johan downloaded and installed this really pretty Christmas screensaver that showed tranquil tree and candle scenes when he wasn’t using the computer. What he didn’t know was that the screen saver had a sinister hidden payload. While the candles flickered peacefully on his screen, the software went to work combing through his emails and address book, his browser’s cache of past webmail sessions and other files, storing every email address it would find in a separate list.

Then it sent the entire list to a server in Russia, where a criminal combined it with other such submissions to build the ultimate monster spam list that can be sold and resold over and over again.

But as if that wasn’t enough, when the “screensaver” sent the address list to Russia, it received some content in return – messages to be sent to all of Johan’s contacts. Then, unbeknownst to John, his computer started creating hundreds of emails randomly using the harvested email addresses in the To: and From: field along with the content from the Russian server and sent them out using Johan’s Internet connection. One of them used your mother’s email address as sender and yours as recipient.

Now you received some spam from your mother asking you to buy fake watches and you’re ready to speak to her telling her to stop. Well, don’t. Your mother has obviously nothing to do with the whole thing and you’ll never find out that it was actually Johan’s computer.

You just had a look into the really nasty underworld of the Internet where botmasters (the guy in Russia) control botnets (infected computers that all report to the same server) of remote-controlled zombies (Johan’s computer) that were compromised using trojan horses (the screensaver) or similar malware.

And it doesn’t even end there. The botmaster typically doesn’t spam for his own account but hires out his botnet to whoever pays the most. The equally shady factory in China wanting to sell more fake Rolexes can now hire the botmaster to blast their offers all over the internet. The guy in Russia doesn’t even care if you open or click on that email from your mother, he gets paid either way. And when he’s done with the watches, he’ll inform his entire mailing list that they all won the lottery and can pick up the prize if only they pay a small “transfer fee” up front. And after that, he’ll mail a Paypal phish for yet another “client”. And for good measure, he’ll sell his entire email address database, incl. yours, to a friend who is in the same line of “business”.

In other words, once your email address got picked up by a botnet, Pandora’s Box is wide open. The whole scheme is particularly wicked because now you have to depend on others to keep your address safe. Unfortunately, there is little you can do:

  • First of all, do your own share: NEVER open email attachments that you didn’t ask for, even if they appear to come from good friends like Johan. If you’re still curious, ask Johan or your mother first if they really sent it.
  • NEVER download anything where you can’t in­de­pend­ent­ly verify it’s safe. With“independently verify” I mean you can read about it in forums, blogs, news sites, your local “computer geek” etc. Facebook fan pages, even with 1000s of “fans”, do NOT count, they are way too easy to manipulate and are usually full of misinformation!
  • NEVER get fooled by fake “security scans” (they’re quite the opposite!) or“video codec updates” to see that funny kitten clip. If you think you need a new Flash player, type in by hand and update from there. If afterwards the site still says you need an “update” get out of there as fast as you can.
  • Then educate your friends and family about the same. Explain how trojans work. Send them a link to this blog page!
  • You can try having multiple private email addresses. Keep a super-private one, only for family and very few of your closest friends.  Use your university address for everyone you work with and don’t use this for private mail – EVER!  Get a semi-private one for your wider social circle. The latter two do get some spam, although it’s still manageable. GMail has a very good “spam filter”, and blacklisting spammers is very easy!



Vaccinate your pc

Friday, November 9th, 2012

Every year you have to go to your doctor to get an anti-flu injection. You have to get one every year because the influenza virus mutates and adapts every year into a new strain. Computer viruses are exactly the same! Here are a few handy tips and hints to ensure the whole process is as painless as possible. But first things first –

  • Use an AntiVirus Software – It is very important that your computer has an antivirus software running on your machine. By having an antivirus program running, files and emails will be scanned as you use them, download them, or open them. If a virus is found in one of the items you are about to use, the antivirus program will stop you from being able to run that program and therefore infect yourself.

See this link for a listing of some online/stand-alone antivirus programs: Virus, Spyware, and Malware Protection and Removal Resources

  • Update your AntiVirus Software –  There is no point running an antivirus program if you do not make sure it has all the latest updates available to it. If you do not update the software, it will not know about any new viruses, trojans, worms, etc that have been released into the wild since you installed the program. Then if a new infection appears in your computer, the antivirus program will not know that it is bad, and not alert you when you run it and become infected. Therefore it is imperative that you update your Antivirus software at least once a week (Even more if you wish) so that you are protected from all the latest threats. If you are lucky then you will have an anti-virus product that will update itself automatically via the internet, but never blindly trust this. A large number of the more virulent viruses and trojans can deactivate your anti-virus software’s updating functions.
  • Install an Anti-Spyware Program – Just as you installed and use an antivirus program, it is essential these days to use a Spyware protection and removal program. These programs can be used to scan your computer for spyware, dialers, browser hijackers, and other programs that are malicious in nature. The 4 program that I recommend are SuperAnti-SpywareSpybot – Search and Destroy, andLavasoft’s Ad-Aware, and Windows Defender.A tutorial on using some of these programs can be found below:

Using Spybot – Search & Destroy to remove Spyware , Malware, and Hijackers

Using Ad-aware to remove Spyware, Malware, & Hijackers from Your Computer

  • Commercial Spyware Removal/Protection Programs – If you feel more comfortable installing a commercial Spyware removal program then I recommend WebRoot’s Spysweeper or Lavasoft’s Ad-Aware Professional. Both are fair products and a worthy addition to the arsenal of software protecting your computer.

Spysweeper Product Information

  • Occasionally Run Online Virus Scans – Unfortunately not all antivirus programs are created equal. Each program may find infections that other antivirus programs do not and vice-versa. It is therefore recommended that you occasionally run some free online antivirus scanners to make sure that you are not infected with items that your particular antivirus program does not know how to find. Three online scanners that we recommend are:

Every once in a while, maybe once every 2 weeks, run one or both of these scanners to see if they find anything that may have been missed by your locally installed antivirus software. Believe me, you will not regret it!


For regular updates on the latest spam, malware and ransomware threats, please check or blog regularly.

Warning: New SARS, ABSA & eBucks phishing email

Tuesday, September 18th, 2012

If you receive an email claiming to be from ABSA regarding a payment from SARS or eBucks (see examples below), do not open it or click on any of the links. These are phishing emails attempting to acquire your passwords and other information. Immediately delete these emails and do not reply to them.

From: Absa Bank []
Sent: 18 September 2012 08:29 AM
To: …
Subject: SARS E-filing Payment Received

Dear Client,

A payment has been made into your account from SARS e-filing
In other to process and confirm this payment please do click here to login.
During this process, your RVN will be checked and verified.



From: Absa Internet Banking []
Sent: 19 September 2012 15:01
Subject: Payment Made To Your Online Banking!!

Absa Bank

Online Payment Made

Dear Customer,

A payment has been made to your account. To view the details of the payment, please click here to login. and enter the RVN that will be sent to your cellphone. please contact our support centreon 0860 123 000 . If you are calling from outside South Africa, call +27 11 299 4701 .

Our consultants are available between 8am and 9pm on weekdays, and 8am and 4pm on weekends and public holidays. 

The Internet banking Team

Moving Forward

Copyright Absa. All rights reserved.
Absa of South Africa Limited (Reg. No. 1962/000738/06). Authorised financial services provider. Registered credit provider (NCRCP15).

Disclaimer and confidentiality note:
Everything in this email and any attachments relating to the official business of Absa Group Limited is proprietary to the group.
It is confidential, legally privileged and protected by law. Absa does not own and endorse any other content.
The person addressed in the email is the sole authorised recipient.
Please notify the sender immediately if it has unintentionally reached you and do not read disclose or use the content in any way.

Absa cannot assume that the integrity of this communication has been maintained nor that it is free of errors, virus, interception or interference.
For our privacy policy or information about the Absa group visit our website at

Absa email disclaimer and confidentiality note

Please go to site/homepage/emaildisclaimer. html to read our email disclaimer and confidentiality note. Kindly email (no content or subject line necessary) if you cannot view that page and we will email our email disclaimer and confidentiality note to you.

From: eBucks Credit []
Sent: 25 September 2012 11:56 AM
Subject: eBucks Reward: You have earned a eBucks points !!!


We have detected unusual activity on this account and for your security are temporarily blocking access. To regain access to this account, please click here.

If you are unable to login, contact Member Services at 1-877-786-0722 for further assistance.


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