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ITS News

Spam E-mail - Promethean Article

Spam E-mail - Promethean Article
Written by Courtney White, Senior English Major, and Tom Hull, CIO Siena College.
 
Over the last few months there has been a spike in the amount of Spam e-mail or notices about Spam e-mails, leaving many with the questions, “What exactly is spam and what can we do about it?” Siena e-mail is the main source of communication between students, faculty, administrators and all those associated with Siena, so anything that might interfere with it can become a great nuisance. Here is an interview with CIO Tom Hull regarding spam and what we can do about it.
 
 
Courtney: What is Spam mail?
Tom: “Spam” is defined as junk e-mail or unsolicited bulk e-mail, typically sent to many e-mail recipients. Sometimes Spam is just e-mail messages to promote products or services, but many times it is sent as phishing attempts in order to fake-out or scam the recipient into giving out their personal information. Hence Spam is also considered fake or “not legitimate” e-mail.
 
C: Why has there been such a jump in Spam mail?
T: There is no known reason for the late-summer jump in Spam messages. There are Spam messages numbering in the billions going around the Internet daily. By one measurement, July 25th was a recent high with 234B Spam messages sent on the Internet. Generally it spikes every year at some points and is lower at others with no real pattern. This summer from late July to mid-August the volumes were consistently over 200B Spam messages daily. 
 
C: How do we recognize Spam?
T: The Spammers will send Spam or phishing attempts to millions of mailbox addresses at a time, such as to the entire Google address list or Road Runner directory such as nycap.rr.com address list. The phishing attempts will include a web link that is disguised as legitimate and will attempt to take you to the spoofed website to have you fill in your personal information. Typically if you hover your mouse over the website link before you click, then it will reveal the real Internet address that it is attempting to take you to. If that is not a Siena website or something that you recognize then it is a Spam phishing attempt. Other Spam e-mail is generally suspicious e-mail messages, unsolicited, and/or poorly written messages that you did not anticipate. Any email asking for both your user name and password should not be responded to, companies typically will not ask for both. Additionally ITS will not perform account services through email; this includes asking for your password, resetting your password or increasing quota. For more information, please visit our webpage at   http://www.siena.edu/pages/4860.asp    If you are ever unsure if a message is legit, then please contact us at the ITS Helpdesk x5000 or 786-5000 or helpdesk@siena.edu and we will help you.
 
C: Are our computers at risk?
T: Most Spam e-mail messages will not put your computer at risk. But if you did respond to a suspicious phishing attempt by giving your personal information out on the Internet at a website that you did not recognize, then please contact us because your password(s) will need to be changed and then we can determine if you need a new account name.   The Spam does affect our Siena Data Center Servers. If a user does give out their account information, then it gives the hackers the ability to use our servers to generate Spam messages out to the public. We currently block over 250,000 known Spam messages daily by our filters. The filters are updated daily with new known hacker domains. The Quarantine will provide those messages that are caught but considered to possibly be legit, and all users can review the quarantine summary message nightly or go to our archive called “Postini” anytime during the day.
 
C: What do we do if we have responded to a Spam phishing attempt?
T: Contact the ITS Helpdesk immediately.   And change your account password if you have given out that information. We (ITS) will never ask for personal information in response to an e-mail message or via an unsolicited web link or web form. Be cautious with all your e-mail and be extra careful when surfing websites that are suspicious or of questionable content.   Again, contact us anytime that you have questions or want a confirmation for a questionable e-mail.