With the Phish Bowl up and running I don’t do many posts about phishing emails any more. However one showed up on campus this week that provides such a great teaching opportunity, that I had to write about it.
Here is the offender:
To make things even more confusing, the email links to a legitimate Google Form. Clicking on the Fill Out Form button, does indeed take you to a Google form. Nothing malicious is loaded onto your machine and the form looks like a completely legitimate evaluation form, with one exception. It asks for your Microsoft ID and password.
Any time any form asks you for a password, no matter how legitimate it looks, exit the form immediately. If you do enter your credentials and then realize that you shouldn’t , change them immediately.
Criminals are sending phishing emails that look surprisingly legitimate. They appear to come from apparently trustworthy senders, like “cisco@webex[.]com” and “meetings@webex[.]com.” They emails urge recipients to take an immediate action in order to fix a security vulnerability in their WebEx software. The emails look like this:
If you click on the Join button, it will take you to a page that asks for your login credentials. Of course the login page belongs to the criminals and will only steal your credentials.
If you receive an email asking you to update software, do not click the links in the email. Instead, start up the software and check for updates by selecting Help from its menu and selecting About. You can also visit the official website for the software and load updates from there.
Every once in a while I get affirmation that all that I do to try and keep all of you safe is working. This was one of those weeks. I would like to take a moment to toot the horn of Credit Registration.
They receive hundreds of emails from students and prospective students every week. The majority of the time they have no idea who they are talking to. To reduce the chances they will be cyberattack victims, they have put procedures into place that somewhat verify the sender’s identity. It isn’t fool proof, but it is a good balance between practicality and security. What is truly wonderful is their staff follow their procedures.
This week those procedures were tested and they passed. Congratulations Credit Registration!
This week has been a busy one for the security team. We have been slammed with a new phishing tactic, requests for cell phone numbers. Campus inboxes are receiving emails that appear to be coming from a supervisor. They look like this.
While this one contains a misspelled word, others look perfectly legit. The only clue is the weird sender email address.
Why do they want your cell phone number? Lots of reasons. First of all they can take your phone number and connect it to your email address which helps build out your data profile so advertisers can more easily target you with ads. Advertisers pay a premium for complete data profiles.
But the benefits don’t stop there. If they have your phone number, know where you work, have an email address and your name, they have enough information to impersonate you with your cell phone provider. If the customer service agent that answers the call doesn’t follow proper procedures, the scammer can port your number to a different carrier or disable your SIM card and get a new one. Either way you lose control of your phone number and the criminal now has access to everything that uses your phone number for confirmation. One MRU employee has already found out how damaging this type of attack can be.
Lastly they can send you lovely text messages containing links that appear to come from your bank, include offers for free stuff or opportunities to enter a contest. Clicking on these links load malware onto your device designed to steal passwords, contacts and data.
Your best defense against this type of attack, is to read the sender’s email address before you read the body of the message. If you see that the email is not from a Mount Royal account, you can delete the message before your emotions are triggered by the email content.
If you aren’t sure if an email is legit, you can check the Phish Bowl to see if it is listed there or you can forward the email to firstname.lastname@example.org. If you find a phishing email, don’t forget to report it by clicking the PhishAlarm button or forwarding it to email@example.com so we can warn your colleagues.
As employees all over the world are working from home, criminals are ramping things up hoping to take advantage of the less secure networks that people tend to have at home. We have surges in phishing emails on campus and across the world related to working from home as well as an increase in malicious websites. It has gotten so bad the US Secret Service has issued a warning. Here are some things to watch out for.
The fake VPN
As employees struggle to setup a home office, they are signing up and downloading VPN services at record rates. While all of our employees have the advantage of using SRAS, many smaller organizations do not have their own VPN tool and are asking employees to install one on their home computer. If your spouse or roommate are in this situation, warn them to be very careful about what VPN they download. Cyberattackers are offering fake VPN services that download malware onto your machine in record numbers. Make sure they check reviews of the service to ensure it is reputable before they install it on their machine.
Fake COVID-19 trackers
As people attempt to live their lives and stay safe, many are turning to maps that track the location and incidence of infections. Criminals are getting wise and creating their own versions of these tracking websites that infect your computer with malware.
Some enterprising scammers have also created phone apps that supposedly track the infection rate but load your device with ransomware instead. Stick to well known and reputable websites such as Alberta Health Services and the World Health Organization to get your information about the virus and stay away from any apps related to it including ones that tell you how to get rid of it.
Phishing emails about working from home and COVID-19
Phishing email attacks are off the scale. Everything from fake emails from your organization about working from home, to offers of vaccines and cures. One of their favorites is fake GoFundMe pages with coronavirus victims pleading for medical help. Another is pretending to be a colleague who is quarantined and needs help.
You name it, the depraved are going to try it. During this time it is especially important to be vigilant. If you receive an email that doesn’t come from a Mount Royal email address, question its validity. While you are working at home, make sure you use your Mount Royal email address to send business correspondence. DO NOT use your personal email address. This will make it easier for your colleagues to stay safe.
The attackers are at it again, this time they have tried to hide behind threats of disciplinary action. Check out the latest phishing email to hit the campus:
This nasty thing mostly landed in spam folders. However, there are some of you that would have found this in your inbox. The premise is plausible and the pdf attachment looks harmless. If you were to open this email on your phone, the odds are very good that you would assume the email is legitimate. However if you open the attachment a nasty surprise awaits. This is a gentle reminder to double check the sender’s email address before you make a decision to act on an email.
Another day, another fake UPS email. Take a look at this sad excuse of a phishing email.
I really do expect more from an attacker. At least paste an out of focus logo into the email. If you want to steal my money, you should put in a bit more effort than this.
Every month I send out a nice little phishing training email to give our wonderful users across campus some practice identifying them. Those people that click and are repeat clickers, work in IT or are a Cybersecurity Champion all tell me the same thing. They were trying to determine whether to click or not while they were in a hurry or while they were on their phones.
The dangers of doing this were highlighted in the Our Community article, I knew I’d been scammed which details how one of Mount Royal’s community members became a victim of a gift card scam. Now KnowBe4 has written its own article describing how one of their cybersecurity professionals clicked in three phishing training emails in two months. In both cases the individuals were well educated in how to identify a phishing email but were in a hurry and using their phones. The message that keeps getting repeated is to SLOW down.
Before you decide what to do with an email, STOP. If you are on your phone, deal with it later at your workstation. If you are in the midst of doing 100 things, deal with it when you have time to evaluate it properly.
Taking theses simple steps will help keep you from becoming a victim.
Tuesday morning was an exciting one for the security team. Over 900 inboxes received the following email.
I am delighted to report that a huge number of you were superheros and forwarded the email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks to you we were able to block the target page and limit any damage. Even though so many of you spotted the email as a phish right away, with the high number of recipients Marketing and Communications made the unusual decision to issue a campus wide alert.
While we were investigating the incident, we discovered that the attacker spent a lot of time viewing our Payroll webpage. There is an excellent chance that the attacker will use this information in the near future to create another phishing email.
We are asking everyone across campus to keep an eye out for payroll or HR related phishing emails in the next little while. If you receive an email that appears to come from HR or Payroll, please check the email address for accuracy. If it is correct, please call the sender to confirm that they actually sent the email.
Should you find the email to be malicious, do what your colleagues did this morning and forward the email to email@example.com. You too can be a superhero!
For a while now, I have been warning about clicking on links in emails from organizations that you know. Instead, I have encouraged all of you to visit the organizations website directly using a bookmark. A report of a new phishing campaign targeting Stripe users shows why this advice is so important to take.
This campaign involves an email that tells the intended victim that there is something wrong with their account details. They are asked to login to their Stripe account to update them and given a handy button that appears to take them to the Strip login page. The page is of course a spoof and although it looks exactly like the real one, all credentials entered are collected by the thieves.
The fraudulent page is set up so that once you have entered your credentials in the fake login page, they use them to log you into your actual account. From your point of view, nothing is amiss. They now have your login credentials, you are non the wiser and they have hours if not days to withdraw funds before you even notice.
Although this campaign is targeting Stripe users at the moment, the same tactic is used to target all sorts of users. This is a gentle reminder to not click on links in emails from organizations that you know, but to use a bookmark instead. If you don’t have the site bookmarked you can use a search results, however proceed with caution as more and more fraudulent sites are appearing there.