We have seen them before, the fake subscription renewals that arrive with the fake invoice attached. The hope is we will panic and call to cancel. When we do, they attempt to convince us that they over refunded us by thousands and demand we pay it back or they try to get us to install software on our machine so they can issue the refund. The result is an empty bank account, malware on your machine or both.
This week some very lazy attackers hit the campus with hundreds of these emails with various subject lines that all included the same fake Best Buy – Geek Squad subscription renewal invoice. I say they were lazy because the majority of them contained messages with no more than a word or two. inboxes across the University were hit, many with several different versions of the same email.
I am delighted to report that instead of being taken in by these emails, dozens of people reported them. Our cybersecurity inbox was slammed and more reports keep coming in. Thank you to everyone who gave us a heads up. Keep up the great work!
Look at what showed up on the phone of an MRU community member.
The links in this text do not go to the TD Canada Trust website. The person who received this text does not bank with TD so they knew it was a fake alert right away. However, if you do bank with them and receive this text, the odds are pretty good you will click. The whole alert received thing tends to make people panic. When they panic, they react. Rational thought never has a chance to kick in.
We don’t know for sure what will happen if you click one of the links. However, as it tells you to login, the odds are good that you will be directed to a fake TD login page. When you enter your username and password, the criminals will likely record and store your credentials to either use themselves or sell on the dark web. Either way, they can drain your bank accounts.
This is a reminder that if you receive an email or text from your bank, count to 10. Then call them directly using a phone number that you know is legitimate to ask them if there is a problem with your account. Resist the urge to click, no matter how great it is. Salvation is only a phone call away.
The tech support scam is back. This week a MRU community member had a virus warning popup on their screen while they were working. The virus warning listed a phone number and appeared to come from Microsoft.
The individual phoned the Service Desk. However, when they couldn’t get through they called the ‘Microsoft’ number in the pop up. The fake Microsoft rep hung up on them when the caller didn’t provide the rep with the information they were looking for. Our MRU community member avoided being scammed simply by not being cooperative. However, had they been dealing with a more patient scammer, this could have gone very wrong very quickly.
This is a reminder if you see a dialog box with a virus warning and a phone number, it is a scam. Most likely there is no virus on your machine. instead, the website that you have visited has been compromised by a hacker to display a fake virus warning to anyone who views it. If this happens to you, close your browser and then open it again. Do not close the pop up. Do not visit that website again.
If you are concerned that your MRU issued device may have a virus, contact the Service Desk. Be patient, they will get back to you. If it is your personal device you are concerned about, run a virus scan. If something appears to be amiss and the virus scan does not find anything, take your device to a repair shop to have it checked.
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 email@example.com. If you find a phishing email, don’t forget to report it by clicking the PhishAlarm button or forwarding it to firstname.lastname@example.org 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 7 things, deal with it when you have time to evaluate it properly.
Taking theses simple steps will help keep you from becoming a victim.