Psych! Uni staff receive bizarre fake COVID vaccine email

Chief Operating Officer Bruce Lines admitted the stunt was in ‘the worst possible taste’

Early last Friday morning, staff at the University of Adelaide received some welcome but unexpected news: ‘As an Adelaide University employee, you are now eligible to receive the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at Adelaide Unicares (sic), regardless of your age group.

‘There’s only a limited number of vaccines available at this time, and it will be administered on a first-come first-serve basis. DO NOT miss this opportunity to help build herd immunity at the University!’

The email, signed by ‘The Adelaide Unicares COVID-19 VaccinationsTeam’ (sic) was sent to all staff yesterday morning from the conspicuous address ‘noreply@corp-update.com’.

If you’ve picked up serious Nigerian prince leaves millions of dollars in his will for little old you if you just provide your bank details vibes from this, you wouldn’t be half-wrong.

A few hours later, staff received another email from Chief Information Security Officer, Shuichi Sakai, alerting them to the fact that this was not only a scam phishing email, but that it was sent by the University’s IT department.

‘I appreciate some of you felt tricked after learning this was a simulation,’ wrote Sakai.

‘The reason that we send simulated scam emails is to help University staff learn to recognise them, as phishing emails like this are sent by malicious entities on a regular basis.’

Sakai illustrated the textbook features of a phishing scam: unknown sender, spelling errors, and suspicious domain links. 40% — 50% of staff followed the link provided to book an appointment, with Sakai flagging ‘a series of initiatives to enhance our cyber security awareness in order to thwart any real-life attacks.’

Oh, wait, but there’s more.

Just before 3pm, UofA Chief Operating Officer, Bruce Lines, formally apologised to staff for the email, calling it ‘totally inappropriate and in the worst possible taste’. Lines pinned the blame on the IT Department, which ‘generated and approved’ the exercise.

‘While these simulated exercises are a vital part of the University’s security activities, more attention must — and will — be given to the subjects of future emails.’

‘I offer my deepest apologies to all staff, and to the Adelaide Unicare practices who have been needlessly fielding calls from staff about this issue today.’

In related news, the University today appointed former Prank Patrol host Scott Tweedie as its Sensitivity Training Advisor. In a media release, Scotty said this was the most ill-thought prank he’d seen since On Dit falsely reported the UofA Women’s Collective had been affiliated with the student union on April Fool’s this year.

‘Remember, pranks are supposed to be fun for everyone involved. Especially in these unprecedented times, it is crucial we prank safely and respectfully. Don’t do stupid things like dangling people’s hopes and dreams in front of their noses before snatching them away. Otherwise, you might just end up pranking yourself.’ Words to live by, Scotty.

(Don’t worry Adelaide Uni SRC; we can confirm these last two paragraphs are indeed satire).

Follow On Dit on Twitter for breaking and bite-sized news (plus stupol coverage if that’s your thing).

Got a juicy story or anonymous tip? Contact the editors at onditmag@gmail.com. We’ll handle it respectfully and confidentially.

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Adelaide University student magazine since 1932. Edited by Grace Atta, Jenny Jung & Chanel Trezise. Get in touch: onditmag@gmail.com