Emporia State’s student email accounts have recently been subject to several “hoax email” scams aimed at discovering the login information of ESU students and faculty. Many of these “hoax emails” are disguised as joke or chain emails, and ask the receiver to respond to the email with their email username and password, according to Cheryl O’Dell, Information Technology Security officer.
“Hoax emails are emails disguised as normal emails, which might prompt the reader to open an attachment, or enter login information, often times with the threat of disabling the email account if the reader doesn’t comply,” O’Dell said.
O’Dell also said that when the reader opens these attachments, it silently installs the Trojan virus or similar virus on the computer. Silent install means that there is no prompt or dialog box telling the user that the download is in progress.
The Trojan Horse virus, sometimes simply known as a Trojan, is, according to PC Magazine Encyclopedia, “a program that appears legitimate, but performs some illicit activity when it is run. It may be used to locate password information or make the system more vulnerable to future entry or simply destroy programs or data on the hard disk.”
Technology and Computing Services, which controls the technological services throughout campus, will never request login information from a user via email, O’Dell said, so students should be concerned about any email requesting such information.
“To my knowledge no legitimate company makes requests of that sort,” O’Dell said.
Maureen King, senior integrated studies in earth science major, said though she did not know these “hoax emails” were still spreading around campus, she believes TCS is doing a good job trying to battle their spread.
“(It’s) tough when it is one student to another, or a teacher to a student,” she said, “but I think they do a good job for the limitations they have.”
To stop the circulation of these emails, O’Dell suggested all students should report any emails they find suspicious to TCS immediately, and she insists contacting TCS on these matters will result in no punitive measures.
Students can also log on to BuzzIn and consult the tab labeled “Technology Services,” where they will find examples of some of these “hoax emails” and also the contact information for TCS, in the event a student would need assistance or have additional questions about suspicious emails. Students may send suspicious mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
O’Dell urged that all students should be aware of what they receive in their mailbox in order to combat the spread of these “hoax emails.”
“The best advice I can give to students about these emails is to be careful about what you open… never assume you won’t be a victim,” O’Dell said.