Editorial: University must prevent increasing number of phishing scams

UConn students have increasingly been the targets of email phishing scams. (Jason Jiang/The Daily Campus)

UConn students have increasingly been the targets and victims of several email phishing scams, most recently through an email attachment with the fake file name “Exclusive Important Announcement from President Susan Herbst” this past week. The university has different protocols and procedures that filter out many scam emails, however those emails that do pass through present great risk to students, especially if there is any delay in identifying them as dangerous. Phishing emails have increasingly become a problem, not just at UConn but also at other institutions, companies and organizations. It is only expected they will continue to be used by hackers and will pose more and more threats. It is imperative that the university develops a reliable system to filter out these messages as best and quickly as possible.

In the case of a phishing scam, an individual or group will obtain a list of email addresses and send an email that appears to be from a credible or official source, including links or attachments in the body of the email that if clicked upon, will put the recipient at risk of obtaining a computer virus or being hacked. At UConn, student email addresses are fairly public and easy to obtain and, in the past, hackers have disguised their emails as being from Blackboard Learn or University Mail Services, according to a report by the Daily Campus.

The university has, in the past, alerted students of major phishing scams. It is important that the university responds and advises students in such cases; however there should be systems ready to prevent students from receiving such scam emails in the first place. Sensitive student information is at risk and, if compromised, it would constitute much more than a minor inconvenience. Similarly, faculty and professors who use university emails and are collaborating on research projects could potentially have information stolen. As there will only likely be more phishing attempts in the future, is is in the university’s best  interest to deal with this problem now.