“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

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

COVID-19 Job Offer Emails are Fraudulent

An email has been sent to campus inboxes about a COVID-19 “Work Online From Home Job” paying $500 a week. This email is fraudulent. Do NOT reply to the email with your information. The email did not have a warning banner because it came from a compromised Berry account. Below is a picture of the email.

Please report these emails using the “Report Email As Phishing” button in your client or forward them to infosec@berry.edu and then delete them from your computer/device.

May News from Information Security

Wait?

It’s May already?

Where did April go?

It passed by as we were stuck at home and no, you didn’t miss the the April newsletter, as it was lost in the work-from-home shuffle. There’s a hint of a light at the end of the coronavirus tunnel as some businesses are opening and some restrictions lifted, but that’s all I’m going to say about that…

While we may not have been as busy during this time, phishers, scammers, and other bad actors have gone into overdrive. Some sources have placed the increased fraudulent traffic as 300% higher this last quarter over the same quarter from 2019. The amount of emails attempting to leverage the coronavirus and associated fears has grown astronomically and the phishers have an edge in this environment – we’re already stressed and uncertain.

There are emails purporting to have a cure for the disease, others with great deals on PPE (who figured that acronym would ever become common?), some trying to steal CARES relief funds, and others trying to convince people they have come in contact with someone with the virus. That’s just a tiny sample. There are some new articles on this site covering social media surveys, Skype password phishing, and complaint scams. The COVID-19 article was updated multiple times with new information. If you haven’t read those yet, you should check them out after you’re done reading this.

Myriad opportunities abound to phish, scam, and deceive people who have severe cases of cabin fever, restlessness and real fears about jobs and finances. No stress point is neglected in the daily attacks from bad actors trying to compromise accounts, steal credentials, and wreak havoc in an already chaotic environment. Many people are learning new ways to work, communicate, shop, eat, and socialize. All of the “new” is irresistible to scammers and phishers. Here is what I consider the number one safety tip (with some examples) to safely navigate this new (hopefully temporary) normal.

  • Almost all email should be considered suspect at this point. Apply a much higher grade of scrutiny to any and all emails you receive.
    • Emails like the ones mentioned in the Skype phishing article will appear to come from a variety of services, all of them trying to get you to click on that link or button in the email to check your notifications. Don’t!!! Simply log in to the site or service like you normally would, and if you have notifications, they will be there.
    • Emails asking for banking information or other financial information should be VERY carefully scrutinized. Most will be fraudulent. If you or a family member need to supply banking information to receive CARES funds or are having to deal with unemployment, make sure you are going to the right resources. Numerous government sites are available including the Health and Human Services site  and the primary government site about coronavirus information. The Georgia Department of Labor site is where to get answers about the process of receiving unemployment benefits.
    • Phishers haven’t given up on old themes. We have received plenty of emails to campus inboxes purporting to be from college department heads, all the way to President Briggs, asking you to for a “favor” or with an “urgent request”. Don’t fall for these! Check the From address and look for the external email banner to determine the validity of emails like this. The fact that they should be EXTREMELY rare should immediately render them suspect.

On a somewhat different topic, check out the new voicemail notification Quick Tip here on the site. It explains how to tell if a voicemail notification received via email is valid or not.

Here’s hoping that things will get back to normal soon, even if normal is slightly different. As always, if you ever have a question about an email or other questions about information security, please don’t hesitate to contact me at infosec@berry.edu, extension 1750 or 706-236-1750. I’m still working at home, like many others.

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 take only a few minutes. Make your request by emailing computing@berry.edu to tell them you want MFA!
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 (whenever we get to the point we can do that).
Photo Credit: Photo by Jose Antonio Gallego Vázquez on Unsplash

“Complaint” Emails are Fraudulent

UPDATED (4/28/2020): A new variation on this phishing theme in these days of remote meetings is an email that invites you to a Zoom meeting with HR to discuss a matter important to your employment (first quarter review, personnel issue, contract termination, any job situation that would immediately raise your anxiety level). As usual, the grammar is poor and word choice is unusual for American English speakers.

The Zoom link in the email will bring you to a fake Zoom login page. It is so fake that it will explicitly ask you for your organization email username and email password. There’s no reason Zoom would ask for this information. A real Zoom login page would have a link to sign in with your organization’s credentials, but it does not call them “email username” and “email password”. 

Be very careful out there and think before you click. If you need to confirm a suspicious meeting with HR or anyone else, please call or email them directly. Don’t click on the link without confirming!

A common phishing email that recently has been increasing in frequency tries to convince you a complaint has been lodged against you, and that the police have been contacted. Other versions of this same phishing theme have mentioned docking your salary because of the complaint..

The emails seen here at Berry were simple, with poor grammar.

This is the text of the email

, good afternoon
We received a client complaint #2/691 on you in Berry College.
Complaint forwarded to local police department

Notice the comma at the front of the first line. This indicates that the phishers tried to mail merge these and failed or simply used a mail merge template, as there should be a name in front of the comma. Again, the grammar is terrible and the “#2/691” in the email is a link that might be tempting for you to click to see who complained about you. Don’t!!! The email came from an external email address, not from within the Berry email system as would be expected if this were real.

Other version of this phishing email purports to come from a “corporate lawyer” who “tried to reach you” but couldn’t. It asks for a time when can you be contacted and also provides a helpful and tempting link to review the complaint.

This is not how Berry does business, of course, and it should be obvious that this is a phishing email.

 

 

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 take only a few minutes. Make your request by emailing computing@berry.edu to tell them you want MFA!

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 David Clode on Unsplash

COVID-19/Novel Coronavirus Information Security Precautions

NOTICE! Further updates to this page will be announced on the Berry OIT social media platforms. We’re on Facebook (@BerryCollegeOIT), Twitter (@berryoit), and Instagram (@berrycollegeoit). Please check back here often, as tactics will change almost daily based on new events related to the virus. Updates will continue to be added to the bottom of this page and dated for easy following.

While we all should be washing our hands more frequently, using hand sanitizer, avoiding large gatherings, limiting our travel, and taking other physical precautions in response to the coronavirus. we also have to take into account information security precautions.

Criminals will use every ruse they can to try and take your money, steal your credentials or infect your computer with malware, including promising “coronavirus updates”, “miracle cures”, and other information and services. Many of these phishing emails will be believable, not just because the criminals may take care to craft them accurately, but because almost everyone has at least some small innate fear of this mostly unknown virus. There is urgency and “scariness” built right in, as the coronavirus will most likely affect all of us, at least indirectly, at some point.

Please be especially careful with any emails that attempt to manipulate you using fear of the coronavirus. Avoid and report emails that request donations, or claim to have “inside information” about the virus and the associated disease, COVID-19.

UPDATE (3/18) – also stay away from apps in the Apple Store and Google Play that are coronavirus related. The vast majority are designed to steal your data and credentials or take over your phone, or both.

If you want more information about it, your best bet is to stick to major news outlets like CNN, MSNBC and Fox News for more reader-friendly summaries, and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the World Health Organization, and the Georgia Department of Public Health for more detailed and localized information.

Please also consult the college’s update page for dealing with the coronavirus.

Links to other sources of information will be posted here as the situation develops, but your first stop should be the page above.

UPDATE (3/18): Here is the NCSA resources page mentioned in the March 18th email. https://staysafeonline.org/covid-19-security-resource-library/

UPDATE (3/23): Coronavirus-themed phishing emails are arriving in campus email inboxes now. They promise everything from where to find masks and other protective gear to the fact that you don’t need a vaccine to beat the coronavirus (true, but irrelevant). Some are attempting to impersonate the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Don’t be fooled! Report or delete these emails, don’t follow any links, and don’t open any attachments. Rest assured the WHO and the CDC will not email you directly with updates. You can visit these sites from the links above, or if you have them bookmarked now, as some do, use your bookmarks or Google to find the sites safely.

UPDATE (3/23b): Scammers are now using the promise of government stimulus checks to try and steal your credentials and financial information. They are also attempting to impersonate the IRS to achieve the same goals, with the same lure (stimulus checks). Don’t fall for these tricks! The government will not contact you via email and ask for private financial information.

UPDATE (4/1): For those of you using Zoom for classes or other duties – Due to a bug in how Zoom handles web and file addresses in the chat feature, OIT strongly recommends that you do NOT send links to resources for classes (or work) via chat, nor should you open any links in the chat window. Please put resource links for all classes in Canvas, and treat any link in the chat window as you would a link in an email, VERY SUSPICIOUSLY! Also, please make sure you are following ALL of the recommendations from OIT about securing Zoom sessions if you are using Zoom to conduct classes. These are found in a March 19th email from computing@berry.edu.

UPDATE (4/1b): Scammers have no shame. One of the newest phishing scams out there tries to convince you that they are contacting you from a hospital and that they know you have had contact with someone infected with the coronavirus. The scam attempts to have you download and open the attachment, then proceed to the nearest hospital. The attachment contains malware and will infect your computer. Even during a pandemic, don’t open attachments.

Also, scammers have registered hundred of new domains over the past few weeks with “zoom” in them somewhere and the websites associated with them are handing out malware to unsuspecting users who click on them. The real domain for Zoom is zoom.us. There is never any reason to go to the Zoom website to use Zoom. Download the Zoom app to your computer and do your work there. Be VERY cautious with emails that purport to be from Zoom.

Finally, a group of scammers are going “old school” to infect users. They are mailing (yep, snail-mail) USB drives to potential victims, sometimes accompanied by gift cards or other lures to get users to plug them into their computers. Don’t ever plug in a USB drive of unknown origin into your computer! The USB drives sent by these scammers will install malware that will allow them access to your computer. Don’t fall for it!

Photo Credit: Photo by Dimitri Karastelev on Unsplash