You can lead a user to water, but alas, you cannot drown them

  • Our Central IT helpdesk manager of a large educational institution sent out the anti-phishing email below awhile back:

    ***   ALERT  

    There have been a large number of attempts to trick email users to disclose personal information via a reply to an email or asking recipients to visit a web site  to "confirm" personal information.  This kind of email attack is called "phishing".  Computer hackers are "trolling as in fishing" trying to get your personal information such as a password,  name or birth date.  This data can then be used to steal your identity or compromise our computer systems.

    Our Users continue to receive many of these "phishing" emails.  We block a large majority of them but some do slip through into your inboxes.  A good rule of thumb is to NEVER share your password or personal information with anyone (especially via email) and do not reply to these types of emails.

    IT Staff will NEVER ask for personal identifying information in an email such as date of birth, social security number or password.

    The latest phishing email is copied below as an example of these attempts of data compromise.  Please review it and NEVER respond to emails of this nature.  

    Dear (our domain) User

    This Email is from (our domain) Customer Care and we are sending it to every (our domain) User Accounts Owner for safety. we are having congestions due to the anonymous registration of (our domain) accounts so we are shutting down some (our domain) Email accounts and your account was among those to be deleted. We are sending this email to you so that you can verify and let us know if you still want to use this account. If you are still interested please confirm your account by filling the space below.Your User name, password, date of birth and your country information would be needed to verify your account.

    Due to the congestion in all (our domain) Email users and removal of all unused (our domain) Email Accounts, (our domain) Email would be shutting down all unused Accounts, You will have to confirm your E-mail by filling out your Login Information below after clicking the reply button, or your account will be suspended within 72 hours for security reasons.

    Username: ............................
    Password: ............................
    Date of Birth: .......................
    Country Or Territory: ................

    After following the instructions in the sheet, your account will not be interrupted and will continue as normal. Thanks for your attention to this request. We apologize for any inconveniences.

    Warning!!! Account owner that refuses to update his/her account after two weeks of receiving this warning will lose his or her account permanently.
    The (our domain) Support Team.

    Several days later, the staff meeting took a nosedive when it was revealed that several people, including students and tenured faculty, replied to her with their Usernames, their Passwords, their Date of Birth, and their Country or Territory.

  • Please do not delete my account. I am still using it!


     * Username: ............................fourchan
    * Password: ............................hunter92
    * Date of Birth: .......................2009
    * Country Or Territory: ................USA

  • The post is nothing special, but I love the title.

  • Of course, the user would be more likely to fill this out if the reply-to address is actually the official helpdesk one.

    Then again, I think I'm putting too much faith in the user.

  • You're a little late. Let the knowledge of you not being alone be your consolation.


  • @Zecc said:

    The post is nothing special, but I love the title.

    As do I.

  •  This happened several months ago at a K-12, where the technology coordinator sent out a similar e-mail. Actually, it was better. One of the principals at the high school called in a trouble ticket because he was having trouble "filling out a form." That form turned out to be that very e-mail, where he didn't even realize he wasn't in "reply" mode, let alone the fact that he was doing exactly what the e-mail set out to inform users not to do.

  •  I replied to one of those, with my username and an obviously fake password.  Unfortunately I was the only one with a sense of humour 😞

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