Students Staff

May 16, 2019

“Are you on campus?” Beware of spear phishing emails asking you to buy something

Filed under: Email, Security — Dan Jolly @ 5:19 pm

We are currently receiving emails from external email accounts, such as Gmail, pretending to come from a Head of Department.

The emails typically are very short and the subject line will be something like “are you on campus?”.

If you reply, the sender will explain that they are your Head of Department , that they are in a meeting and can’t be contacted by phone, but urgently need you to buy some Amazon or iTune vouchers for them for a nephew’s birthday or a student prize.

Although these are quite targeted – which is why they are called “spear phishing” – they have many of the warning signs that ordinary phishing emails have:

  • It’ s an unusual request and it comes out of the blue
  • it tries to instill a sense of urgency
  • the emails often contain poor grammar and spelling mistakes – even misspelling the name of the person they are supposed to be from!

So unless you really do know your HoD well enough to be in the habit of shopping for presents for their family for them, then please delete these emails and make sure that your colleagues know to delete them too.

Sadly, if you do fall for the trick then it’s very difficult indeed to recover the money spent.

For more information on suspicious mail, see Spam and phishing emails.

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