Phishing Alert

University Sees Increase in Phishing Messages During Pandemic

Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, we have seen a sharp increase in phishing attacks against SMU. We wanted to make you aware of two specific phishing campaigns that have impacted campus users recently.

Gift Card Scams

Phishing email example

One is a gift card scam that is targeting faculty and staff. The scam has gone to both email and phone numbers for staff members. If it comes from email, it usually comes with a fake Gmail address intended to appear as if it is coming from an SMU address, for example, oit.smu.ed@gmail.com. These phishing messages are created to look like they are originating from individuals that you may already work with, such as your supervisor, peers, or employees. There are no links to click. Instead, the sender indicates they need your assistance. When you respond, they request you to purchase some gift cards and send them the codes. You can view an example of how this type of phishing begins at blog.smu.edu/spam/2020/05/12/i-need-a-quick-response/.

We featured this type of phishing message on the IT Connect blog last year. You can review it at blog.smu.edu/itconnect/2019/01/25/gift-card-phishing-scam-fake-supervisor-email-address/.

If you receive a request from someone to buy a gift card on their behalf, please verify with the person requesting the gift card before purchasing anything.

Fake Voice Mail Scams

Phishing email exampleSMU has begun sending copies of voicemails as email attachments. Phishers are taking advantage of the timing of this new feature by sending messages that appear like voicemail messages, but instead, contain links to malicious websites. For an example of these fraudulent messages, please see blog.smu.edu/spam/2020/05/12/vm-wlreless-caller/.

Please remember that SMU OIT will NEVER ask you to verify your account information, provide your password, or any personal information via email. Do not respond to any emails requesting this information. If you are still unsure, contact the IT Help Desk (help@smu.edu or 214-768-HELP), and they will be happy to verify the legitimacy of the message. For more information about reporting spam or phishing, please visit http://smu.edu/spam.

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Ian Aberle

Ian Aberle is the IT Communications Specialist and Trainer for the Office of Information Technology (OIT) at Southern Methodist University (SMU). He started at SMU in 1996 and, for much of his career at the University, had managed the SMU STAR Program before joining the Training & Communications Team in 2015. In his free time, Ian enjoys photography and road trips with his family. You can see examples of when the two collide at ianaberle.com.