Rise in the number of malicious emails received by staff


[01 August 2017]

We've seen a large number malicious emails recently. At least 95% of these are being caught by Office 365 and marked as junk before reaching your inbox. The messages usually reference an invoice that needs payment and includes a link that takes you to a fake Office document where you are asked to enable macros. In a number of cases, these messages seem to come from colleagues within the University.

If macros are enabled a computer virus, ‘Emotet’, starts installation which steals passwords and other sensitive information on your computer.

To avoid being a victim of this malicious software take the following advice:

  • Do not click on links or open attachments from unsolicited emails.
  • Do not enable macros on any document unless you are 100% sure that the document can be trusted.
  • Check who sent you the email, the ‘display name’ in emails can be easily manipulated to look like anyone, even a colleague. The true sender can be displayed in brackets in Microsoft Outlook. If you are suspicious, contact the sender via telephone or a new email message sourced from the address book.
  • Mark messages that are suspicious as junk/phishing.
  • If you think you have clicked on a link in one of these messages, report this to the IT Service Desk immediately.

We are working to reduce the impact of these messages, and the likelihood that you will receive them. The most powerful tool against these attacks is informed colleagues that know how to spot, avoid and report these issues.

For more information on protecting yourself from such attacks visit: http://www.bristol.ac.uk/infosec/email-threat/