“2020 Anti Virus Protection” Emails are Fake

One of the first things you will notice about these fake “anti virus” protection emails is the odd font in the subject line. A small font, sized at half the height of normal fonts, it looks…odd. This is red flag #1. If you bother to open the email and hover on any of the links, you will notice they do NOT go to either a Norton site or a Symantec (the owner of Norton) site. This is red flag #2. Closely related to this is red flag #3…the email did not come from an address of either company.

The email does contain an image, shown below, which purports that this email came from an “affiliate” of Norton, but does provide a name. All links in the email go to the same domain, flagged as a phishing domain by security company Kaspersky – red flag #4.

You should just delete these emails. If you have opened one and clicked on a link, please let me know so we can discuss the potential impact of this action and what steps you may need to take next. You can email me at infosec@berry.edu.

 

 

Featured Image credit: Photo by stephen momot on Unsplash

September News From Information Security

September already!?!?

Hard to believe, but this entire year has been hard to believe, so why should anything change now? Lots of things to pass along to all of you in this newsletter, from mandated notifications to announcements of new and returning resources, to the upcoming Cyber-Security Awareness Month.

By far, the most important item is the reminder that downloading or distributing copyrighted material, including through peer-to-peer file sharing applications, without the permission of the copyright owner is against the law. Illegal downloading or distribution of copyrighted materials can result in your being prosecuted in criminal court and/or sued for damages in civil court. Criminal penalties for first-time offenders can be as high as five years in prison and $250,000 in fines. If sued in civil court, you may be responsible for monetary damages, attorneys’ fees, and civil penalties up to $150,000 per work distributed.

Use of Berry’s resources for unauthorized distribution of copyrighted materials is forbidden. The College prohibits illegal copyright infringement through its Acceptable Use Policy. You are required to adhere to all college policies including those that relate to copyrights and fair use. This information is posted on the Berry website at https://berry.edu/policies/ . The Memorial Library has an excellent resource: http://libguides.berry.edu/copyright

There are many legal sources available for copyrighted material such as music, movies, and TV shows. Some are free and some charge a nominal fee. We’ve all grown VERY aware of the possibilities over the last few months, at least those of us who were required to isolate ourselves or who did so voluntarily in response to the coronavirus. Please be responsible in your use of copyrighted materials.

Whew!

With that out of the way here are a couple of new resources from Information Security. While we won’t get to meet and chat in Krannert for the foreseeable future, it doesn’t mean Information Security is taking a break. The cyber-criminals definitely don’t.

On this site in the next few days you will see a new item in the main menu. The Berry College “Phishbowl” will feature past and current phishing emails curated from submitted emails from Berry faculty, staff, and students. All emails have been anonymized, unless they came to a non-personal account like “Financial Aid” (one of the phishers favorite targets).

You’ll be able to see a variety of phishing emails, with commentary on the various indicators that betray it as a phishing email. Eventually, you’ll be able to sort and filter emails based on type, i.e., sextortion emails versus financial fraud versus fake notifications (this capability is still “under construction”). I hope seeing these emails with their tell-tale indicators will help you be able to spot a phishing email and not get caught in the future.

Another new resource is a twist on an old resource. Last year, I held a series of lunchtime training opportunities I affectionately called “LunchITS”. Well…that’s not gonna happen this year, at least for a while, so I am launching a new opportunity for one-hour training sessions via Zoom. I hope to hold the first one mid-September, then have them regularly, every other week or so, through the end of the semester.

Topics will include old standbys like phishing and account management, to new sessions with more narrowly focused topics like how to effectively and easily use a password manager, or how to choose and safely use Internet of Things (IoT) devices like “smart” coffee pots and home automation equipment. Sessions will be repeated throughout the semester, so I hope you get the opportunity to attend one. Details will be posted on this site as general posts and to the events calendar hosted here, when it returns. Check back for more info, or if you are part of a club, office, department, or other group and want to get customized “in-person” (via Zoom, of course) training, just let me know. Check the About page for my contact information.

With this being September, as mentioned before, that means that next month is October, which is Cyber-Security Awareness Month! There will be weekly posts on the nationally chosen topics, plus, in lieu of a table in Krannert every week, there will be a weekly competition, culminating in a grand prize drawing for some exciting prizes. More details will be posted here on this site throughout September, so check back for more info.

In addition to details about the October fun, there will continue to be warnings posted about current phishing emails, breach notifications, and other information security events that could affect you, so bookmark the beautiful new front page and check back often.

Now for the usual reminders (or for those who have never been here before, some important information you should definitely read).

If you haven’t signed up for multi-factor authentication (MFA), what are you waiting for? This adds an additional layer of protection to your Berry account and lets you keep the same password for a whole year! Setup takes only a few minutes. Make your request by emailing computing@berry.edu to tell them you want MFA!

If I’m not covering a topic of information security you are interested in or concerned about, please let me know. I want to be your first and best resource on information security, so let me know how I can help and inform you.

If you’re not following Berry OIT on Facebook (@BerryCollegeOIT), Twitter (@berryoit), or Instagram (@berrycollegeoit), you should be, as more information from OIT and specifically Information Security, will be provided using these outlets. Remember, you can always check back here for warnings about current phishing emails, confirmations of valid emails you might have a question about, and data breach notifications. There’s also the Q&A section, where you can ask a question and get an answer directly from me, and the events calendar, once it makes its triumphant return.

Thanks for persevering to the end of this rather long newsletter!

Photo Credit: No Piracy billboard by Descrier (CC BY 2.0) https://flic.kr/p/faTECf

August News from Information Security

Welcome to the intentionally delayed August Information Security newsletter. I wanted to release this in conjunction with everyone returning to campus. First I want to welcome all our new faculty, staff and students as we begin this most interesting journey into the fall semester. I also want to welcome all the returning faculty, staff, and students who have been in various ways preparing feverishly (uh, maybe that’s not a good metaphor) striving earnestly for the start of classes.

You all have been inundated with safety information in relation to the coronavirus, COVID-19, or whatever name you want to use (I will simply use “virus” in this newsletter) to describe the virus that has upended our lives in such a profound way. I hate to be one to pile on, but in addition to the virus itself, all kinds of bad actors are afoot attempting to fool you into clicking on malicious links, submitting sensitive information, even giving up your passwords, many of them preying on the chaos caused by the virus. Please be extremely vigilant with any unexpected emails, and treat all email, at this point, with caution.

Internet criminals have no qualms about using any leverage they can to trick you. One of the latest ploys involved criminals spoofing the Small Business Administration loan relief website to try and steal information from you. Fake websites with false information about cures for the virus and government relief programs are rampant. Be very careful surfin’ the net out there.

I have some news concerning the InfoSec News and Information site (this site you are reading this article on). For the new folks (and even for returning folks who have never visited the site before), this site has a brand new look and feel. The style has moved from looking like a website from the early 2000s to now looking at least “2017ish”. I hope you like the new format and the easier navigation.

A downside to all this progress is that the transition has left the site without an events calendar, at least temporarily. I am looking for a new one and hope to get that squared away soon. Events will necessarily look a lot different for a while, but I hope to conduct some LunchITS training sessions this semester, via Zoom, of course, and I will continue to create and share new security awareness training videos. Keep checking back to see when the new events calendar shows up.

Also coming soon to the site is a “phishbowl” where you will be able to view examples of phishing emails so you can know what to look out for and also see just how desperate some people are to try and scam you. This should debut in the next week or so and will be accessible from the main page of the site.

I will, of course, continue to post warnings about phishing emails and notices about other information security topics. It will all be accessible here on the site, so bookmark it and check it regularly.

Here are some reminders (or “new information” for some of you)…

If you haven’t signed up for multi-factor authentication (MFA), what are you waiting for? This adds an additional layer of protection to your Berry account and lets you keep the same password for a whole year! Setup takes only a few minutes. Make your request by emailing computing@berry.edu to tell them you want MFA!

If I’m not covering a topic of information security you are interested in or concerned about, please let me know. I want to be your first and best resource on information security, so let me know how I can help and inform you.

If you’re not following Berry OIT on Facebook (@BerryCollegeOIT), Twitter (@berryoit), or Instagram (@berrycollegeoit), you should be, as more information from OIT and specifically Information Security, will be provided using these outlets. Remember you can always check back here for warnings about current phishing emails, confirmations of valid emails you might have a question about, and data breach notifications. There’s also the Q&A section, where you can ask a question and get an answer directly from me, and (eventually) the events calendar will return, where events like LunchITS training sessions and other opportunities can be found.

 

 

 

July News from Information Security

Well, 2020 has been a trip so far, wouldn’t you agree?

“Trip” might be an understatement. It’s as if our lives are as jumbled and chaotic as this pile of puzzle pieces. Nothing seems to make sense, or have any clarity whatsoever. Between the corona-virus, murder hornets, protests (and riots), cancel culture, and for extra flavor, all during an election year, I know many of you are weary and yearn for some good news.

This post is not that…I’m sorry.

We’ve been bombarded by all kinds of phishing emails. Thanks, again, to everyone who reports these and to those who simply delete them and move on. There’s no relief in sight for these. We will continue to be sent fake personal assistant jobs, fake upgrade notifications, fake meeting notifications, fake emails about ‘favors” and “urgent requests”, fake shared document notifications, and more. Please be vigilant, informed, and conscientious in handling your email.

One particular type of phishing email that has popped up recently (again) is one where a phisher uses old emails from a compromised account to attempt to get users to click on a link leading to a “report” or “project update” or other some important document. From your perspective, you see a familiar subject line in an email, potentially coming from a valid and known address, but in the body of the message, there is a sentence about an updated report or some other document that has nothing to do with the original email. It usually has a convenient link provided to view it. Don’t click the link! If you have any thought that it might be valid, contact the sender to confirm they sent it.

The other type of phishing email that was popular for a couple of days was the fake shared document notification. The email purported to be from a colleague, but the actual From address was not a Berry address. Also, the document was shared on some other cloud storage system other than OneDrive. Documents related to college business and activities should never be put on any other cloud storage service other than OneDrive. Be very careful with shared document notifications…always verify with the purported sender.

Email is also the subject of my next warning. During the early days of the corona-virus meltdown, many companies bought up vast amounts of protective gear, especially masks, gloves, and other disposable personal protective equipment (PPE). Some of these companies are now holding large quantities of PPE in stock and realizing they need to get rid of at least a portion of it. We have already seen some spam emails offering PPE and we will probably see more. You can either simply delete these emails or you can flag them as spam using the tools in Outlook. While I don’t mind them being reported via the “Report Email as Phishing” button, many technically aren’t phishing as much as simple spam. With that said, don’t hesitate to report any that you feel are more than just unsolicited commercial emails.

How to flag an email as spam? In Outlook, with the spam email open, there is a button on the left-hand side of the menu bar that lets you block the sender. It looks like a person with the red “circle-with-a-backslash” symbol (officially the “general prohibition sign”). The first option is “Block Sender” which will block the sender and send the email to the Junk folder.

One last thing. I’ve typed “Report Email as Phishing” more times that I want to count, and all the “cool colleges” have a nifty acronym for their phishing reporting tool, so I’ve decided we should also have one. Therefore, from now on, the “Report Email as Phishing” button will be referred to as the “REaP” button (capitalization/non-capitalization is intentional), which I think is fitting, as it allows us to “reap” phishing emails from our system. Yes, I know “reaping” generally means harvesting or gathering useful or good things, not dangerous emails, but the base action is fundamentally the same. Right? I’m glad you agree. Whew, that will save me twenty characters of typing per instance moving forward!

Be on the lookout for an announcement concerning the official opening of the Berry Information Security Phishbowl, or simply, the Phishbowl. I WILL NOT be using an acronym for that, thanks to the Urban Dictionary.

Here goes the usual reminders…

If you haven’t signed up for multi-factor authentication (MFA), what are you waiting for? This adds an additional layer of protection to your Berry account and lets you keep the same password for a whole year! Setup takes only a few minutes. Make your request by emailing computing@berry.edu to tell them you want MFA!

If I’m not covering a topic of information security you are interested in or concerned about, please let me know. I want to be your first and best resource on information security, so let me know how I can help and inform you.

If you’re not following Berry OIT on Facebook (@BerryCollegeOIT), Twitter (@berryoit), or Instagram (@berrycollegeoit), you should be, as more information from OIT and specifically Information Security, will be provided using these outlets. Remember you can always check back here for warnings about current phishing emails, confirmations of valid emails you might have a question about, and data breach notifications. There’s also the Q&A section, where you can ask a question and get an answer directly from me, and the events calendar where events like tables in Krannert and LunchITS will be posted (someday when the corona-virus crisis has passed…).

Photo Credit: Photo by Hans-Peter Gauster on Unsplash

Emails offering a personal assistant job opportunity are fraudulent

UPDATE: A new version of this fraud was sent from a compromised Berry account recently. The subject of the email was “P.A Job Offer”. It was offering $500 a week to be a personal assistant. As mentioned below, do not reply to this email, as it is an attempt to steal money from you.

An email has been sent to the majority of the Berry College students claiming to offer a work-from-home assistant job. This offer is fraudulent and is not a valid job offering. Do not send information to the address in the email or give out any personal information. The full text of the email is shown below for reference. The most obvious indicator of fraud is the fact that the sender in the “From” line ( not shown, but is in fact Jane.Lee@vikings.berry.edu) does not match the closing signature line (Jane Hickman). This type of email may show up again, slightly modified, with different names, wages or responsibilities, so be very careful with offers like this.

Hello and Good day,
Dr. Alex is currently looking out for an assistant who is self motivated, reliable, articulate and eager to learn with minimal supervision required to work-from-home part time as his Personal Assistant.

Job Scope:

> Manage diary and schedule meetings and appointments??
> Screen and direct phone calls and distribute correspondence
> Produce reports, presentations and briefs
> Make travel arrangements

Hours:  An Average of 12hrs weekly
Wages: $200.00 weekly

If interested, Submit your resume/cover letter directly to Dr. Alex via: alexwaton27@gmail.com

Sincerely,
Jane Hickman

Originally posted June 18, 2019. Updated June 22, 2020.

VM Notifications and Signature Requests are Fraudulent

Many of you have received (and some have reported – thanks!) two fairly new phishing emails to appear in our inboxes.

The first one is a (sometimes incorrectly) targeted voice mail notification. It appears to come from a Berry address if you don’t look closely. The subject line states “VM message from” and then has an area code and prefix, but the last four digits of the phone number are starred out. It also states that the VM was “received and processed” on a specific date. Opening the email shows an “Office365” logon and “Voicemail Service” in a large, plain type. It tries to get you to open an attachment which has an HTML link which most likely redirects to a fake Office365 login page.

Here is an image of the email:

The second type of phishing email is a fraudulent request for a signature on a document, ostensibly an auto proposal. These email also  purport to be from Berry, but actually come from another educational institution. The phishers have either compromised a mail server there or have simply rewritten the From address to look like “<your username>@<the other institution>.edu. The phishers also insert your username into the subject line, which is intended to grab your attention. The full subject line reads: Signature requested for “<your username> – Auto Proposal 20-21”

It gets weirder when you open the email to see the following in the body of the message:

Message Duration: 00:29 secs
Sent by berry.edu – Audlo Management Conferenclng System.

There is an attachment that is supposed to be a voice message, but is actually a document with a link in it, probably going to a fake login page, but you are not explicitly instructed to open it. Apparently, the phishers assume you will open it. Don’t do that…
If you haven’t signed up for multi-factor authentication (MFA), what are you waiting for? This adds an additional layer of protection to your Berry account and lets you keep the same password for a whole year! Setup takes only a few minutes. Make your request by emailing computing@berry.edu to tell them you want MFA!

If I’m not covering a topic of information security you are interested in or concerned about, please let me know. I want to be your first and best resource on information security, so let me know how I can help and inform you.

If you’re not following Berry OIT on Facebook (@BerryCollegeOIT), Twitter (@berryoit), or Instagram (@berrycollegeoit), you should be, as more information from OIT and specifically Information Security, will be provided using these outlets. Remember you can always check back here for warnings about current phishing emails, confirmations of valid emails you might have a question about, and data breach notifications. There’s also the Q&A section, where you can ask a question and get an answer directly from me, and the events calendar where events like tables in Krannert and LunchITS will be posted.

Photo Credit: Photo by Mael BALLAND on Unsplash

June News from Information Security

Welcome to the very late June newsletter!

A failure to plan and pre-write the June newsletter, plus a virtual conference during the first week of June, then a frenzy of activity at work, then a couple of vacation days has pushed this edition way past its normal publishing date.

But here we are, still stewing in the social distancing mire, but at least able to do more things, like eat AT restaurants instead of getting food delivered, or, gasp!, going out and picking it up curbside. I hope all of you are healthy and well and have been able to resume some sense of “old normalcy”.

As I mentioned in the last newsletter, phishers, scammers, and the like have been VERY busy trying to take advantage of this time of flux, if not outright chaos. I write this newsletter as cities around the country stagger under the effects of not just the coronavirus, but protests and riots. Both are happening, and many protests that start peacefully are stirred into riots by organized bad actors. I hope you or your loved ones have not been affected…and that’s all I’m going to say about that.

I’ve interacted with several of you about suspect emails over the last few weeks and I appreciate your caution and skepticism. Everything from fake voice mail notifications to fraudulent signature requests have arrived in our email inboxes. Companies continue to improperly care for the data they acquire from us. There are a couple of upcoming breach notifications that I need to finish and publish to the site.

With that said, I encourage everyone to go to Have I Been Pwned to see what data about you has been exposed. Notice I don’t say “IF” data has been exposed, but “what” data has been exposed. It’s easy. Go to the site, put in your email address(es), and be sure you are sitting down when you click “pwned?”. While you are there, sign up to be notified when information connected to your email addresses has been exposed. You’ll have to register each email individually.

As I mentioned in May’s newsletter, all email should be carefully examined. Actually, I said that “almost all emails should be considered suspect” and I stand by that statement. I also said that this was the number one safety tip I could offer during this time. Here are tips two and three.

Most Important Tip #2: Update your devices.

Your device, whether it is a Windows or macOS computer, or an Android or iOS device should be set to automatically update. If you have an undeniable fear of automatic updates, then at least make sure that update notifications are turned on. Then, when Windows or macOS notify you of an update, or your Android or iOS device chime to tell you an update is available, first confirm that it is a real update notification. Update notifications don’t come in your email, nor do they pop up inside your browser. These notifications come directly from the operating system of the device. Examples are shown below:

Windows 10 :

macOS:

Left iOS (iPhone and iPad) and Right Android phone (Motorola, others may vary)

Most Important Tip #3: Use a strong, unique password and multi-factor authentication for every login account you have.

What do I mean by a strong password?

  • At least 13 characters long, 20 is better…
  • Don’t worry about complexity unless the particular site or service requires it.
  • No dictionary words by themselves.
  • Do not use any part of your username or real name/nickname in the password.

What?! Thirteen characters? Twenty characters? Yes. Find a password manager you like and use it to both generate and store your passwords. That means you only need to remember one long password, to open the password manager. Longer passwords are better than short, complex passwords. If you insist on making long passwords that are non-random, don’t use long dictionary words. Use multiple, unrelated words, as explained in the Good Password Guidelines Quick Info article here on this site.

Get multi-factor authentication enabled on every account you can, especially accounts for banks and other financial sites, sites which handle your medical records, other confidential and sensitive sites, and your Berry account.

If you haven’t signed up for multi-factor authentication (MFA), what are you waiting for? This adds an additional layer of protection to your Berry account and lets you keep the same password for a whole year! Setup takes only a few minutes. Make your request by emailing computing@berry.edu to tell them you want MFA!
If I’m not covering a topic of information security you are interested in or concerned about, please let me know. I want to be your first and best resource on information security, so let me know how I can help and inform you.
If you’re not following Berry OIT on Facebook (@BerryCollegeOIT), Twitter (@berryoit), or Instagram (@berrycollegeoit), you should be, as more information from OIT and specifically Information Security, will be provided using these outlets. Remember you can always check back here for warnings about current phishing emails, confirmations of valid emails you might have a question about, and data breach notifications. There’s also the Q&A section, where you can ask a question and get an answer directly from me, and the events calendar where events like tables in Krannert and LunchITS will be posted.

 

Photo Credit: Photo by Max Kleinen on Unsplash