Here’s my semi-annual warning to my fellow IT clowns and others that actually give a sh**:
In a higher-education setting, phishers tend to bring on their waves of false emails during the beginning and end of Summer.
- They do this to get the ‘noobs’ that are first enrolling (end of Summer) and perhaps this is their first REALLY REAL email address ever from a targeted institution (uh…like ALL of them are targeted, actually).
- The beginning of summer brings on new staff, faculty and a good amount of visiting faculty that are not expecting the Petri dish that defines the typical university environment.
We have just been subjected to some very, VERY targeted phishing emails and I’d just like to warn you that the ‘Beginning of Summer’ season for phishing HAS arrived. These bastards are getting very sophisticated. One email even has a link to a website that is named after our authentication system!
There’s ways of preventing the ‘ANAL-ity’ that is the result of successful phishing:
- Good, updated virus protection with a malware and web-interception capability. We use Sophos (the NOT FREE version) …Microsoft Security Essentials, MSE (free software) has rudimentary protection for those systems running Win 7 and below. Windows Defender (comes with Win8) is used for the newest versions of Windows.
- NOTE: I don’t believe MSE has web protection. Internet Explorer 10 has built-in protections for phishing. But I only launch IE when I have to <grin> .
- But REMEMBER that what you REALLY need is protection from yourself: If you click on the link and your anti-web-clicking-oh-my-God software doesn’t protect you or isn’t installed, you may be directed to a site that will ask you for login and password information. Or, the link itself may try and introduce a bad, nasty and persistent piece of code into your computer.
This piece of knowledge can save your ass: IT professionals are demigods in your network. They don’t need or want your passwords. They will refuse to take your password and if you force it on them they should ORDER you to change your password or block your access to their network if you don’t change it.
*If you click a link and it asks for ANYTHING about your logins, passwords or personal info you should immediately move away from your computer keyboard with your hands up, don a condom (male computer users only), wash your hands up to your elbows and then go straight to your IT personnel and tell them. Uh…you don’t have to PROVE you put on the condom, though. <smile>
*That is a joke. What you really must do is forward the email (without clicking any of the links) to your IT Helpdesk ASAP.
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