Phishing attacks posing as emails from your company’s IT helpdesk are becoming increasingly common. These attacks attempt to gather your information for identity theft purposes and can also spread malware.
You should ensure that emails claiming to be from your IT helpdesk are legitimate before responding with information about your identity or your computer.
Indicators of IT helpdesk phishing emails
Signs of potentially fake emails include:
the sender address of the email should be from an expected or known IT helpdesk address in your company
emails that do not specify your company’s name, instead use generic terms such as ‘IT helpdesk’
incorrect company branding, for example, the wrong text, font or colour
a sense of urgency, using language such as ‘immediate downtime’ or ‘act immediately’
requests to install software onto your computer
requests for a password.
Poor use of language, spelling mistakes or incorrect grammar can also indicate the email is phishing. The following is an example of a recent IT helpdesk phishing email:
We will be performing emergency maintenance on our network equipment.
Anticipated downtime will be approximately 60 minutes. This will affect both internet access and phone service.
Click on the below link and follow the instructions
This message attempts to send you to a website where identifying information is requested. Such information can be used to steal your identity or target your computer.
Other examples of phishing attacks such as these have attempted to spread malware in two possible ways.
The email could ask you to install software on your computer. Any requests such as this, to install software from the internet, should be considered suspicious. Most IT helpdesks will have systems in place for installing software on users computers.
The email could direct you to a website and attempt to install software without your knowledge. This is known as a drive-by-download and can happen simply by clicking the link in the email and visiting the website.
To stay safe, it is important that you do not click links in phishing emails or reply to the sender if you do not know them.
Information for IT helpdesks
IT helpdesks can also help stop users in their company from being attacked in this way. IT departments should ensure that clear procedures for safe communication with staff are in place and being used. These procedures may include:
updating email filters to stop phishing emails from being delivered to people’s inboxes
using a standardised format for sending helpdesk requests
employing a system to allow people to verify requests from outside their email. A commonly used example is the helpdesk ticketing system
including basic company information in helpdesk requests, such as the name of the company
sending all helpdesk requests from a single email address, such as helpdesk [at] company.com.au
ensure that staff are aware of IT requirements with plenty of notice. Limit the number of urgent requests made of staff
do not ask for unnecessary information in emails, and never require the user to provide their password.
It is important to ensure that staff are aware of basic rules for helpdesk requests. This allows staff to spot fake IT Helpdesk emails more easily.
The information provided here is of a general nature. Everyone's circumstances are different. If you require specific advice you should contact your local technical support provider.
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This information has been prepared by Enex TestLab for the Department of Communications ('the Department'). It was accurate and up to date at the time of publishing.
This information is general information only and is intended for use by private individuals and small to medium sized businesses. If you are concerned about a specific cyber security issue you should seek professional advice.
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