The FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center has issued an advisory on increased complaints for Technical Support Scams. The scammer claims to be an employee of a major computer software or security company offering technical support to the victim. Some of these scammers claim to be from cable and internet companies to assist with cable boxes, modems and routers. The scammer claims that they are seeing viruses or security issues from the victim’s internet connection or computer. Some scammers are even claiming to work on behalf of government agencies to resolve threats from possible foreign countries or terrorist organizations.
The initial contact by the scammer is usually by phone, but has also been seen in pop-up messages or locked screens (Blue Screen of Death) with a message to call a number or go to a URL for assistance. After the subject makes verbal contact, they try to get the victim to provide remote access to their device. Once they get access to your device, they will ask for a fee to remove the virus from the computer, attempt to access personal files that may have passwords, financial data, or personal data, or they may install malware on the device.
To guard against this scam:
- Ask for a help desk ticket (or ITSM) number and a call back UTA telephone number.
- Hang up and call the number if it is a true UTA extension (either 5 digit extension for on campus calls or 817-272-xxxx prefix).
- Recognize the attempt and cease all communication with the subject.
- Ignore the pressure from the scammer to act quickly.
- Do not give an unknown/unverified person remote access to your computer or accounts.
- Remember that a legitimate software company will not contact an individual unless it is initiated by the customer.
- Be sure to install anti-virus, security and malware protection applications and make sure it is updated on a regular basis.
If you find that a scammer has gained access to your device or accounts:
- Contact your financial intuitions to alert them and monitor your accounts for suspicious activity.
- If the device is owned by UT Arlington, contact the Information Security Office – firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Complaints may also be filed with the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center at ic3.gov. (You may be required to be specific with details; name of company, phone numbers and email addresses used by the subject, websites used, account names and numbers, financial institutions that received any funds, and a description of the interaction with the subject).
Keep any original documentation, emails, faxes and logs of all communications with the subjects.
To view this and other FBI Public Service Announcements or Scam Alerts go to www.ic3.gov/media/default.aspx.
Please beware that several individuals at UT Arlington have reported receiving email messages containing an attached “.zip” files that contains hidden malware (malicious software).
The malware appears to be a ransomware (cryptolocker variant) – it will encrypt files on the infected computer as well as network drives. The email subject line is not consistent and may have one of the following subject lines:
- Please find attached invoice no: <<random number>>
- If you receive a suspicious or unexpected email similar to the description above, do not open the attachment. Instead, we ask you to send the email as an attachment to email@example.com for analysis.
- If you are expecting legitimate email with attached zip file, you will need to manually release it from quarantine. The email system should notify you of emails being placed in quarantine, or you can login to https://quarantine.uta.edu/ to check quarantined mail. Please do not restore and open any suspicious or unexpected attachments you may find within the quarantine.
- If you received the message and opened the attachment, please contact OIT help desk for assistance.
To learn about Ransomware:
To learn about Phishing:
Example 1 of the message:
From: firstname.lastname@example.org [mailto:email@example.com]
Sent: Monday, August 29, 2016 5:58 AM
Subject: Please find attached invoice no: 6862055379
Attached is a Print Manager form.
Format = Portable Document Format File (PDF) ________________________________
This email/fax transmission is confidential and intended solely for the person or organisation to whom it is addressed. If you are not the intended recipient, you must not copy, distribute or disseminate the information, or take any action in reliance of it. Any views expressed in this message are those of the individual sender, except where the sender specifically states them to be the views of any organisation or employer. If you have received this message in error, do not open any attachment but please notify the sender (above) deleting this message from your system. For email transmissions please rely on your own virus check no responsibility is taken by the sender for any damage rising out of any bug or virus infection.
End of Example 1
Example 2 of the message:
From: <<random name and email address>>>
Sent: Monday, August 29, 2016 4:12 AM
Good morning <<name of recepient>>
Here is the excel file of the commission you earned last month. Please analyze the attachment to confirm the amount.
End of Example 2
Beware of suspicious email attachments
Ransomware attacks have been reported from faculty and staff over the past few days. This particular ransomware is spread through emails that have an infected attachment, but navigating to infected websites may also be a source of infection. Once a user has clicked on an infected attachment, the ransomware will encrypt all files on your computer and rename the file extensions to “.lockey”. The ransomware may also encrypt any network drives you may have mapped (J and K Drives, etc.). If you notice you have been infected by the ransomware, disconnect the computer from the network, leave it turned on and contact the UTA Help Desk at 817-272-2208.
All faculty, staff, and students are urged to
- Avoid clicking on any suspicious attachments in emails
- Never click on links in emails that you’re not expecting. Signs that an email or website is not legitimate:
- Sender’s address or website address does not match the organization listed in the content of the message.
- Grammar in the message or website is poor.
- Format of the email or website is poor or inconsistent with what you’ve seen from the organization.
- Hovering your mouse over the links reveals web addresses inconsistent with the content of the message.
- Ensure your computer has anti-malware software configured and set to automatically run updates
- Keep your computer operating system and applications (Web Browsers, MS Office applications, Adobe Acrobat, etc.) patched and up-to-date
- Ensure you have properly backed up your files.
- UTA Faculty and Staff can use CrashPlan to automatically backup files on their computers. Contact your department’s desktop support associate or Help Desk at 817-272-2208 for installation assistance.
- Other methods include copying files to Network drives, use encrypted external drives (encrypted to prevent unauthorized access), faculty and staff may use approved cloud storage like UTA box (https://uta.app.box.com). Contact the help desk for assistance in setting your box account up or go to http://www.uta.edu/oit/cs/software/box/up for more information.
- Send suspicious emails with attachments to firstname.lastname@example.org as an attachment. This allows the Office of Information Technology and the Office of Information Security to evaluate the threat.
See the Information Security website for additional information and tips http://www.uta.edu/security/
The Information Security Office wants to alert students, faculty, and staff of a type of phone scam called Vishing (voice phishing) which uses fake caller-ID data to give the appearance that calls come from a trusted organization (such as UT Arlington). The caller tells people they owe money to the University and a warrant has been issued for their arrest. Next, the caller solicits immediate payment for the alleged debts.
University officials will not contact you in this manner or threaten arrest for non-payment of debts. Verifying UT Arlington debts, including citations, can be done by checking MyMav or visiting the Bursar directly. Be aware that this is a type of social engineering wherein someone uses influence, deception, and persuasion to get information that would otherwise be unavailable to them (which is also known as fraud).
Caller ID is far from proof positive of a caller’s identity or authentication. Don’t trust incoming calls based on Caller ID. Make 100% sure you know to whom you are speaking. If any incoming calls from supposedly legitimate companies ask for any personal information of any kind… it is a scam. It is fraud. Period.
If you receive an unexpected call like this from someone claiming to be from UTA DO NOT provide your credit card information. If you fall victim to the call, contact UT Arlington’s Police Department at 817-272-3381. For information on preventing social engineering and theft, please contact the ISO at email@example.com or call us at 817-272-5487.
For more information about Identity Theft, go to:
For more information about Social Engineering, go to:
The Information Security Office wants to make you aware that a number of vulnerabilities affecting Microsoft Office and Adobe Acrobat were disclosed this week. Furthermore, we have been made aware that savvy criminals are launching phishing campaigns to deliver malware (such as viruses, Trojans, worms, etc.) by sending specially crafted documents (like pdf, PowerPoint) attached to crafted email designed to bait recipients into opening the documents. If the document is opened, there is a potential for the computer to be infected and may begin downloading other malware.
The Office of Information Technology is aware of these vulnerabilities and is in the process of mitigating them by doing the following:
1. Updating the malware signatures on the email systems that deliver email to @uta.edu and @mavs.uta.edu addresses to block known attachments that might be infected.
2. Updating Microsoft Endpoint Protection (Windows) and McAfee Antivirus (Macintosh) to block known malware that might exploit this vulnerability.
3. Updating Microsoft Office and Adobe Acrobat products on computers that have the standard OIT image.
4. Patching vulnerable servers under their care that might be vulnerable if malware entered our network.
Additionally, the Information Security Office has implemented blocks on the Intrusion Prevention System for known communication that might exploit these vulnerabilities.
As is the nature with all anti-malware software or network protections, and while anti-malware vendors are constantly adjusting and improving detection capabilities, they are often playing catch-up with the latest techniques used by criminals to evade threat detection technology. As such I encourage you to alert your staff to be vigilant and to follow these general tips to avoid infection:
- Do not open email attachments from unknown or untrusted sources
- Remind users not to visit untrusted websites or follow links provided by unknown or untrusted sources, especially email.
- Ensure that computers and servers are protected:
- Keep all operating system, applications and essential software up to date to mitigate potential exploitation by attackers.
- Make sure all AV products are up-to-date with their signatures.
- Ensure that there is a properly configured firewall enabled on the computer or server.
If you are not sure whether your UTA computer is fully protected, please contact the OIT help desk or your Desktop Support Associate.