Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Attacks/Breaches

Spear Phishing Attack Unleashes 1.5M Spam Messages

New Zealand university is exploited after convincing ruse fools four staffers

A cunning spear phishing attack late last week allowed hackers to gain access to the University of Otago's staff email server and use it to send out an estimated 1.55 million spam emails in 60 hours.

According to news reports from Otago about the breach, four members of the university's staff responded to emails that claimed to be from the IT department and asked people to reconfirm their user names and passwords or their email access would be withdrawn.

Armed with these login details, hackers could compromise an email server within "a couple of hours", according to university IT manager Mike Harte, using it to connect to computers outside the university and send out spam.

The huge volume of spam mail resulted in the university's legitimate emails being rejected or delayed by other systems, Harte said. They were re-sent once the spam attack was over.

The four staff members who revealed their passwords were not disciplined, Harte said. The staffers had been warned in April not to fall for the hoax emails, after similar emails turned up at some New Zealand universities.

— Tim Wilson, Site Editor, Dark Reading

Tim Wilson is Editor in Chief and co-founder of Dark Reading.com, UBM Tech's online community for information security professionals. He is responsible for managing the site, assigning and editing content, and writing breaking news stories. Wilson has been recognized as one ... View Full Bio

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
News
A Startup With NSA Roots Wants Silently Disarming Cyberattacks on the Wire to Become the Norm
Kelly Jackson Higgins, Executive Editor at Dark Reading,  5/11/2021
Edge-DRsplash-10-edge-articles
Cybersecurity: What Is Truly Essential?
Joshua Goldfarb, Director of Product Management at F5,  5/12/2021
Commentary
3 Cybersecurity Myths to Bust
Etay Maor, Sr. Director Security Strategy at Cato Networks,  5/11/2021
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon Contest
Write a Caption, Win an Amazon Gift Card! Click Here
Latest Comment: Google Maps is taking "interactive" to a whole new level!
Current Issue
2021 Top Enterprise IT Trends
We've identified the key trends that are poised to impact the IT landscape in 2021. Find out why they're important and how they will affect you today!
Flash Poll
How Enterprises are Developing Secure Applications
How Enterprises are Developing Secure Applications
Recent breaches of third-party apps are driving many organizations to think harder about the security of their off-the-shelf software as they continue to move left in secure software development practices.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2020-15279
PUBLISHED: 2021-05-18
An Improper Access Control vulnerability in the logging component of Bitdefender Endpoint Security Tools for Windows versions prior to 6.6.23.320 allows a regular user to learn the scanning exclusion paths. This issue was discovered during external security research.
CVE-2021-3423
PUBLISHED: 2021-05-18
Uncontrolled Search Path Element vulnerability in the openssl component as used in Bitdefender GravityZone Business Security allows an attacker to load a third party DLL to elevate privileges. This issue affects Bitdefender GravityZone Business S...
CVE-2020-18194
PUBLISHED: 2021-05-17
Cross Site Scripting (XSS) in emlog v6.0.0 allows remote attackers to execute arbitrary code by adding a crafted script as a link to a new blog post.
CVE-2020-18195
PUBLISHED: 2021-05-17
Cross Site Request Forgery (CSRF) in Pluck CMS v4.7.9 allows remote attackers to execute arbitrary code and delete a specific article via the component " /admin.php?action=page."
CVE-2020-18198
PUBLISHED: 2021-05-17
Cross Site Request Forgery (CSRF) in Pluck CMS v4.7.9 allows remote attackers to execute arbitrary code and delete specific images via the component " /admin.php?action=images."