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Monday, April 21, 2014

UWRF email vulnerable to spam

Published November 29th, 2012

Every day students at UW-River Falls receive countless emails.

They come pouring through a student’s inbox, but sometimes an email is not even worth reading.

Most of the time, it is spam.

That email gets deleted and just adds to the other hundred or more emails that might already be in the deleted file.

The Division of Technology Services on campus can do little to protect students from these unwanted emails.

DoTS employee, Infrastructure and Security Technologies Manager Jason Winget said that they are not responsible for filtering emails. Live@edu hosts the student email which does the filtering for DoTS.

Winget said that if DoTS were in charge of filtering emails it would require someone to manage it full time.

Customer Technology Services Manager Sara Solland said, “Microsoft uses Forefront Online Protection for Exchange (FOPE) to combat spam and phishing.”

“When messages are received at the gateway server for the cloud-based email service, they are evaluated and assigned a spam confidence level (SCL) value.

The SCL rating is a number between a zero and nine. A higher SCL rating means that the email is more likely to be spam,” according to http://help.outlook.com.

She also said that users of the Live@edu service can manage some spam settings from their own mailbox and that by default, junk email filtering is enabled on all mailboxes in the cloud-based email service.

Solland added that students can manage spam with the “Junk EMail Settings.”

These settings include, “Don’t move mail to my Junk EMail folder,” “Automatically filter junk email,” “Trust email from my contacts” and “Don’t trust email unless it comes from someone in my Safe Senders and Recipients list or local senders.”

This means that students can pick and choose what email addresses can be sent through to their inbox and what addresses should be treated as spam.

Both Winget and Solland also said that students can configure lists of “Safe Senders,” whose emails should never be treated as spam, and “Blocked Senders,” whose email should always be treated as spam. Emails sent from “Blocked Senders” will be treated as spam on an individual basis.

However, Winget said that not all email is spam.

He said that if somebody follows the guidelines laid out in the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003 then that email is not considered spam. According to the website, http://business.ftc.gov there are seven guidelines to follow.

They are: don’t use false or misleading header information, don’t use deceptive subject lines, identify the message as an ad, tell recipients where you’re located, tell recipients how to opt out of receiving future email from you, honor opt-out requests promptly, and monitor what others are doing on your behalf.

This does not mean that students are happy with how the system works now though. Student Holly Sultze said that even with this filtering system she still gets spam on a daily basis.

“This is really unusual for an undergrad program to get funding by a specific host country. It makes me not want to check my email,” added Sultze.

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