Foreign students looking to experience the stochastic joys of a year at Newcastle University in England are being warned that phishers are after their cash – using an unusually well-crafted attack.
The raiders set up a very realistic-looking fake website proclaiming itself to be Newcastle International University, complete with pages of well-laid-out information. The URL isn't that of the actual university site, but if you're a student unfamiliar with the center of learning, it would be easy to be fooled.
"We have been made aware of an unofficial website which is fraudulently using the Newcastle University brand and accepting credit card payments to apply for courses," the university said. "The website Newcastle International University is in no way affiliated with the University and we are advising anyone who finds the website should not submit any personal details."
It's the ideal time for phishers to pull a stunt like this. The exam results announcements for British students looking to go to university will be released within a month and overseas students are already trying to secure their places, and so could be vulnerable to slapping down the plastic if they think they can secure their place in academia now.
While the university has no comment at this time, it's thought the website was spammed out via email to these foreign students, who are also unlikely to notice that the site uses faked Newcastle University logos and coat of arms. The fake site not only tries to harvest credit card data, but also asks for other personal information, including passport details.
"Make no mistake, this is an effective scam. They've put in the time and effort to create a remarkably realistic website. It is well designed, well executed, and it highlights the very real danger of modern spoofing attacks," said Azeem Aleem, director of advanced cyber defence practice – EMEA at RSA.
"Newcastle University's response has been admirable, quickly identifying and warning prospects about the site. Yet it is often very hard for a company or organisation to know if their site has been spoofed until someone has already become a victim." ®