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Office 365 Phishing Emails

January 27, 2014 by Sue Weier

L&S Security

Over the holidays, my Inbox was inundated with a number of new phishing emails.  Interestingly, I noticed a trend toward phishing emails that referenced Office 365.  Most of these appeared to come from support units similar to the LSS TechZone or the DoIT Helpdesk, but on closer examination proved to be fake.

As many of you know, much of the UW campus is moving to Office 365 for email and calendaring over the next 12 months or so.  We can all expect to get emails regarding Office 365 from DoIT and possibly from the TechZone staff during that time.  If you get such an email, take these basic precautions before you click on anything. 

  1. Roll over any links in the email before you click on them. 
  2. Rollover the 'from' name to see what the email address is, and whether it matches the name.  Sometimes I look up names in the directory at the UW homepage to see if the author of the email is really at the University. 
  3. Look for appropriate branding in the email, and check the terminology.  One recent email referenced the "IT Service Desk", not the DoIT HelpDesk, the KB, or the TechZone. 
  4. When you read the email, note grammar and spelling errors.  Many of the phishing emails I receive are riddled with errors, beyond the normal margin of error for a professional email.  Other phishing emails can appear very realistic.  Here's a recent example:
Helpdesk will undergo unscheduled system maintenance today in order to 
improve your account. The new Microsoft Outlook Webaccess 2014 which
will be installed on your email account. Your present account will be
deactivated to create space for the new webaccess 2014. In other to
complete this process, please follow the survey by Click Here: Your
account will be inactive if this survey is not completed. Thank you.
IT Service Center(@)2014.

The text above is relatively unformatted and the second sentence isn't complete.  The "Click Here" link goes to a non-UW URL.  Also, there isn't any UW branding and the terminology is vague. 

If you ever question the validity of an email you receive, go through the checks above and be cautious.  You can forward the email to the TechZone ( or to Sue Weier ( for confirmation if desired.  


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