Banner System staff discuss malicious email

Meghann Anderson
Staff writer

Last week students and faculty members received an email prompting users to send their myGate passwords to a website.

Linda Miller, chief information officer, said the email scam specifically targeted the University.

“The problem is that once you have given them your info you don’t know anything has happened,” Miller said.

Miller said a lot of people don’t think they have anything important, but when you give away credentials the hackers can use your email account to send out spam.

“The email basically said we’re from your friendly Murray State support staff, go to this website and fill in your information for myGate,” Miller said.

Not everyone on campus received the spam email; but the email was sent to some faculty and students. University President Randy Dunn also received the email.

Miller said spear phishing is email scamming targeting people in an organization. The email wanted users’ myGate passwords.

Miller said once they have your password they can use it for everything: Facebook, email, and Blackboard because people usually use the same passwords for all accounts.

Miller said a big issue with the scam would be if a student worker or an employee in the Bursar’s Office email was hacked; they have access to a lot of important University systems that could empty bank accounts.

She said sometimes the spam emails are hacker-based computer programs coming up with common names and different combinations that generate fake emails.

Miller said the information technology staff blocked the latest spam email was blocked once it was discovered.

Miller said people on campus can protect themselves by using more complicated passwords.

“If you don’t have a secure a password, it takes literally seconds to guess the password,” Miller said. “The only defense is to change it regularly and make sure the password is complex.”

Brian Purcell, security officer for information systems, said users can call the email administrator for University mail, at the help desk at 809-2346 for more help on how to prevent scams.

Miller said the scam is not a failure on the part of the University. Out of all emails in the world, 80 to 85 percent of them are spammed, and an increasingly high number are malicious.

She said not all spam emails are malicious in that they target user’s monetary information; some transmit a virus to the user’s computer just by opening the email, which Miller said is unfavorable, but easier to mend.

Michael Mangold, sophomore from Murray, said he received the spam email but did not submit his information to the system.

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