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SECURITY ALERT: New phishing scam reported

We appear to be starting the academic year with yet another widely distributed email phishing scam.

For those not already familiar with the term, “phishing” is the name for a type of attempted identity theft perpetrated through email.  A phishing scam is designed to trick the recipient of the email message into compromising sensitive and/or confidential information, usually by enticing them to follow a link embedded in the message.

The current phishing threat has arrived in a number of NWU email Inboxes with the subject line “Student Health Center”.  The display name of the sender appears as “E-mail Admin” and shows an email address of suerob15 [at] optusnet.com.au .  The body of the message pretends to alert the recipient that they have an unread message from the Student Health Center and invites them to follow a link to view them.

Several tells here that this is a phishing scam.  First, NWU does not communicate through any accounts with the display name “E-mail Admin”.  Second, if we were to do, we would not send messages from an email account with an Australian domain.  Third, the URL for the embedded link is a site in Pakistan and NWU certainly would not aggregate messages at such a site.

While the target site of the embedded link might well have been intended to collect account credentials (with the promise that logging on would get you access to the message), in this case it succeeds only in reaching a web page displaying a permissions error.  In other words, the phishers haven’t set the permissions properly on their target site to allow their victims access!

As the academic year progresses, please remember that phishing scams like this one are all too common.  We see a greater number of phishing scams during transitional periods of the academic calendar (beginning of semester, breaks, midterms, etc.), but they can occur anytime.  Generally, we advise that you use great caution before clicking on any link in an email message, but especially messages you are not expecting.  Examine the message closely, checking the sender display name and email address.  Check any embedded links for the actual URL to which they point.  Consider whether the message directing you to follow the embedded link makes sense and is consistent.  If you have any doubt about the authenticity of an email message, do not act on it.  Please report it to CSIT.

Thank you and have a safe, secure semester ahead,

Steve

Steven R. Dow

Director, CS Infrastructure

Nebraska Wesleyan University