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How to recognise a phishing e-mail

Tuesday, October 5th, 2021

We can’t warn you against every phishing e-mail– there’s a new variation every day. You are the only person who can protect yourself from phishing scams and identity theft. The only way to do this is to learn to recognise a harmful e-mail by paying attention and keeping an eye out for a few tell-tale signs.

phishme_how_to_spot_a_phishTypical characteristics

1. Well-known companies used as bait
These e-mails are sent out to thousands of different e-mail addresses and often the person sending them has no idea who you are. If you have no affiliation with the company the e-mail address is supposedly coming from, it’s fake. For example, if the e-mail is sent by ABSA, but you are a Standard Bank client. Also, see a list of types of companies generally used in phishing e-mails below.

2. Spelling and grammar
Improper spelling and grammar is a dead giveaway. Look for obvious errors. 

3. Lack of client information
Phishers use a generic greeting. For example, the e-mail greets you as “ABSA customer” or “Dear user”, etc. If the company was sending you information regarding your faulty account, they would mention your account details or name in the e-mail.  A company would go through the trouble to address a client by name and won’t ask you for your information. Banks have your information on their system.

4. Deadlines/Sense of urgency
Phishing e-mails demand an immediate response or stipulate a specific deadline, creating a sense of urgency and prompting you to respond before you’ve looked at the e-mail properly. For example,  demanding that you log in and change your account information within 24 hours or your account will be closed.

5. Malicious links
Although many phishing e-mails are getting better at hiding the true URL you are visiting, often these e-mails will show a URL that is unrelated to the company. Move your mouse over the link and look at the display address. Is this the website address of the company who seems to be sending the e-mail? If not, it’s clearly a phishing e-mail.

6. Attachments
Phishing e-mails occasionally include an attachment which contains malware. When opened, it will run and install a small programme on your PC, which hackers use to gain access to your PC and information. 

Typical phishing topics

• Account issues, such as accounts or passwords expiring, accounts being hacked, out-of-date accounts, or account information has to be changed.
• Credit cards expiring or being stolen, a duplicate credit card, credit card transactions, etc. 
• Confirming orders, requesting that you log in to confirm recent orders or transactions before a delivery can be made.
• Winning a prize or getting something for free. Both Woolworths and Pick ‘n Pay’s have been used in fake campaigns to lure people into providing personal details.

Company names phishers generally use

• Any major bank. ABSA and Standard Bank are both popular choices in South Africa.
• Insurance companies, for example, Outsurance.
• Internet service providers
Apple or Microsoft claiming your account has been suspended.
• E-mail providers, e.g. Gmail or Yahoo
• SARS. Especially at this time of year. (We’ve had a few of these.)
DHL or any delivery company claiming they have a package for you.
• Your company’s medical aid, for example, Discovery
• Your company’s IT department
• Casinos and lotteries
• Online dating websites
• Popular websites such as Amazon, Facebook, MySpace, PayPal, eBay, Microsoft, Apple, Hotmail, YouTube, etc.

A few tips to keep you safe

Never follow links in an e-mail you’re uncertain of. Rather visit the page by typing the address of the company in your browser. For example,  instead of clicking on the “ABSA URL” in the e-mail, type http://www.absa.co.za in your web browser and log in at their official website.
Never send personal information by e-mail. If a company is asking for your personal account information or claiming your account is invalid, visit the website and log in to the account as you normally would. If everything seems in order and there aren’t any urgent notifications from your bank, you should be fine.
• If you are still not sure about the status of your account or are concerned about your personal information, contact the company directly, either through an e-mail address provided on their website, over the phone or visit your local branch.
• Delete the e-mail and don’t click on links or fill in any information.
• If you’ve already divulged your information, immediately change your password or PIN and contact the institution to inform them of the breach.
• To report spam or phishing e-mails send an e-mail to sysadm@sun.ac.za with the subject SPAM with the suspect e-mail attached. IT system administrators will then be able to block the e-mail to protect other users.

[SOURCE: www.computerhope.com]

 

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.

“Cryptocurrency” scam email

Wednesday, March 28th, 2018

Please be aware of a  scam making the rounds since yesterday.

It is a “Crypto-currency” (bitcoin) scam that comes in the form of an e-mail from an unknown sender (currently an address from name@dacfinance.online). It will look like this:

 


 

Hi, how are you?
I hope you are okay

 I’ve been trying to reach you for the past couple of days.

Something MAJOR is happening in the trading world and I want you to know about it.

>> Check this with your email somebody@sun.ac.za

 Are you ready for that kind of spending power?

Many people already started to trade cryptocurrencies, BitCoin and LiteCoin.

Join now to our Group!

 To your success,
Some Name
 DAC Finance

cryptocurrency.website address

 


 

This is a sneaky attempt to defraud users seeking an opportunity to invest in Bitcoins (crypto-currency). The website you are taken to is filled with fake testimonials, inflated bank account numbers, exaggerated claims of easy money and various other lies and fabrications. The software that you would be asked to install is fake and will compromise security on your computer and be used to send spam. Furthermore, victims will have to pay anything up to $250 to join the “investment” scheme and the only thing that will happen is that you will be $250 poorer. Here is an example of the website page:

Do not respond to this mail or be tempted to join this scheme. The fact that university e-mail addresses reused and the claims look legitimate should rather be a warning.

As always if you have received mail that looks like this, please immediately report it to the Information Technology Security Team using the following method:

Send the spam/phishing mail to help@sun.ac.za and sysadm@sun.ac.za.
Attach the phishing or suspicious mail on to the message if possible.
1. Start up a new mail addressed to sysadm@sun.ac.za (CC: help@sun.ac.za)
2. Use the Title “SPAM” (without quotes) in the Subject.
3. With this New Mail window open, drag the suspicious spam/phishing mail from your Inbox into the New Mail Window. It will attach the mail as an enclosure and a small icon with a light yellow envelope will appear in the attachments section of the New Mail.
4. Send the mail.

[Article by David Wiles]

E-mail scam with subject: “morning”

Wednesday, December 13th, 2017

It seems that scammers are now attempting to use student e-mail addresses to send out spam. 

If you get mail with the subject of “morning”, supposedly coming from a student account (studentnumber@sun.ac.za) with the following content, please ignore and delete it.

We are conducting a  standard process investigation involving a late client who  shares the same surname with you and also the circumstances surrounding investments made by this client.Are you aware of  any relative/relation having the same surname? Send email to: scammer@scam.com

This is a typical Nigerian 419 Advance Fee scam. Do not respond to this mail. The scammers just want to see who will respond so they can con you out of some money.

A reminder again of how to correctly report spam and phishing scams:

Send the spam/phishing mail to the following addresses: 

help@sun.ac.za and sysadm@sun.ac.za.

 Attach the phishing or suspicious mail on to the message if possible. There is a good tutorial on how to do this at the following link (which is safe): http://stbsp01.stb.sun.ac.za/innov/it/it-help/Wiki%20Pages/Spam%20sysadmin%20Eng.aspx

  1. Start up a new mail addressed to sysadm@sun.ac.za (CC: help@sun.ac.za)
  2. Use the Title “SPAM” (without quotes) in the Subject.
  3. With this New Mail window open, drag the suspicious spam/phishing mail from your Inbox into the New Mail Window. It will attach the mail as an enclosure and a small icon with a light yellow envelope will appear in the attachments section of the New Mail.
  4. Send the mail.

IF YOU HAVE FALLEN FOR THE SCAM:

If you did click on the link of this phishing spam and unwittingly give the scammers your username, e-mail address and password you should immediately go to http://www.sun.ac.za/useradm and change the passwords on ALL your university accounts (making sure the new password is completely different, and is a strong password that will not be easily guessed.) as well as changing the passwords on your social media and private e-mail accounts (especially if you use the same passwords on these accounts.)

IT has set up a website page with useful information on how to report and combat phishing and spam. The address is: https://blogs.sun.ac.za/it/en/2017/11/reporting-spam-malware-and-phishing/

As you can see the address has a sun.ac.za at the end of the domain name, so it is legitimate. We suggest bookmarking this.

[Article by David Wiles]

Nigerian 419 Advance Fee scam

Wednesday, November 29th, 2017

A scam in the form of a well-known “Nigerian 419 Advance Fee” mail is appearing in some of our colleagues and students mailboxes this morning.

The mail is rather simple:

Subject is: “Kindly view attach and forward your reply to <a gmail address>”

The mail’s content simply states the same and the attachment is an image of a letter and states that the sender has a large amount of money that they would like to send you.

This is a typical “Nigerian 411 Advance Fee” scam.

Here is how it works:

You receive an unsolicited message that masquerades as some manner of business proposition, request for assistance, notice of a potential inheritance, or opportunity to help a charity but all of the scam messages share a common theme.

The messages all claim that your help is needed to access a very large sum of money and promise that you will receive a significant portion of this money in exchange for your help.

The scammers use a variety of stories to explain why they need your help to access the funds.

  • They may claim that political climate or legal issues preclude them from accessing funds in a foreign bank account and request your help to gain such access.
  • They may claim that your last name is the same as that of the deceased person who owned an account and suggests that you act as the next of kin of this person in order to gain access to the account’s funds.
  • They may claim that a rich businessman, who has a terminal illness, needs your help to distribute his wealth to charity.
  • They may claim that a soldier stationed overseas has discovered a cache of hidden cash left by a fleeing dictator and needs your help to get the money out of the country.

All these scams promise to let you keep a significant percentage of the funds in exchange for your assistance. This is the bait that is used to pull potential victims deeper into the scam. Once a recipient has taken the bait, and initiated a dialogue with the scammers, he or she will soon receive requests for “fees” that the scammer claims are necessary for processing costs, tax and legal fees, bribes to local officials, or other – totally imaginary – fees.

In reality, the supposed funds do not exist and the main purpose of these scam messages is to trick recipients into parting with their money in the form of these advance fees. Fraudulent requests for fees will usually continue until the victim realises he or she is being conned and stops sending money. In some cases, the scammers may gather enough information to access the victim’s bank account directly or steal the victim’s identity.

Typically, advance fee scammers will send many thousands of identical scam messages to recipients all around the world. (as is today’s example) It only takes a few recipients to fall for the claims in the messages to make the operation pay off for the criminals.

What to do if you receive such an Advance Fee email:

It is important that you do not respond to it in any way. The scammers are likely to act upon any response from those they see as potential victims. The best thing to do with these scam messages is to simply delete them.

Send the spam/phishing mail to the following addresses

help@sun.ac.za and sysadm@sun.ac.za.

 Attach the phishing or suspicious mail on to the message if possible. There is a good tutorial on how to do this at the following link (Which is safe) : http://stbsp01.stb.sun.ac.za/innov/it/it-help/Wiki%20Pages/Spam%20sysadmin%20Eng.aspx

  1. Start up a new mail addressed to sysadm@sun.ac.za (CC: help@sun.ac.za)
  2. Use the Title “SPAM” (without quotes) in the Subject.
  3. With this New Mail window open, drag the suspicious spam/phishing mail from your Inbox into the New Mail Window. It will attach the mail as an enclosure and a small icon with a light yellow envelope will appear in the attachments section of the New Mail.
  4. Send the mail.

If you have fallen for the scam:

If you did click on the link of this phishing spam and unwittingly give the scammers your username, e-mail address and password you should immediately go to http://www.sun.ac.za/useradm and change the passwords on ALL your university accounts (making sure the new password is completely different, and is a strong password that will not be easily guessed.) as well as changing the passwords on your social media and private e-mail accounts (especially if you use the same passwords on these accounts.)

IT have set up a website page with useful information on how to report and combat phishing and spam. The address is:

https://blogs.sun.ac.za/it/en/2017/11/reporting-spam-malware-and-phishing/

As you can see the address has a sun.ac.za at the end of the domain name, so it is legitimate. I suggest bookmarking this.

[ARTICLE BY DAVID WILES]

 

 

 

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