DoTS addresses phishing, spam
October 29, 2009
October is Cyber Security Awareness month, an event put on by Division of Technology Services (DoTS) during which students are better informed on what to do if they experience technological attacks such as phishing or spam.
“We had probably the largest-scale phishing attack against campus last week,” Student Support Coordinator Steven Meads said. “I want to say we had about 80 compromised accounts.”
Phishing is the harvesting of information by e-mail and websites.
According to Microsoft online safety, phishing e-mail messages are designed to steal the user’s identity. They ask for personal data, or direct users to Web sites or phone numbers to call where they ask for personal data.
“Potentially, they could access all of your information,” Meads said. “Say they got into your eSiS account, then they have your birthday, your address . . . all kinds of things that can assist in identity fraud.
The phishing attack happened during a week of Cyber Security, hosted by DoTS.
“We are trying to help students out by setting up a booth in the University Center where they can come and bring their computers,” member of the tech support group John Hunchar said. “We can then look at the computers and see if anything is wrong with them, or figure out any problems they might be having with them free of charge.”
Tech support is also handing out bookmarks and have posters displayed to make students more aware of technology related attacks and how to avoid them.
“Misspelled words or poor grammar are some things that you can look for,” Meads said. “One of the [e-mails] we got had a lower cased “f” in Falcon Account. Things like that are definitely something to watch out for.”
The University is not taking these attacks without fighting back according to Meads.
“We are looking for ways within our department to implement some strategies to help protect what we have now,” he said. “We are monitoring log files and watching for large amounts of e-mails going out.”
Student Tess Lardie expressed frustration with the attacks.
“I got one of the e-mails, and it told me that I had to respond within 24 hours or my account wouldn’t work anymore,” she said. “I didn’t respond to it, but it’s really frustrating when you think you might lose all your information.”
DoTS wants to help students avoid these situations, which is why Cyber Security Awareness month is very important, according to Meads and Hunchar.
“Educating people on things like phishing is a big goal,” Meads said. “We would like to get the information out there and be proactive about it. We don’t want to give the information after the attack; we want people to know this so it doesn’t happen.”
DoTS and Tech Support are helping those who get attacked by the phishing scam through e-mails of their own, telling students not to reply to these kinds of messages.
“If a student gets [one of these] e-mails, we really want to impress upon them not to reply at all,” Meads said. “If you respond, they know if the account is active. DoTS will never ask for your account information, and that is something we really want the students to remember.”
Tech support will have a booth up in the University Center where all students can bring their computers in to be looked at free of charge if they are experiencing problems. These booths will be open on
Oct. 26, and 28, from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. and Nov. 3 and 5 from 4 to 6:30 p.m. Students are encouraged to come.