Students continue to receive scam emails but the Office of Information Technology is prepared to keep student information safe.
Last semester, freshman Darren Ross was scammed out of $4,800 due to a malicious email. The email looked like a legitimate message from the University offering a job opportunity.
Although the emails seemed legitimate, they didn’t fool freshman Julianna Chase. Chase received an email about working in an office on campus for someone who lived in Australia, helping disabled children.
“I immediately knew it was a scam,” Chase said.
Assistant Vice President of Information Technology Brennan Lehman has dealt with these types of scams before. He said the sender will take the information given and use it for identity theft or can sell it on the dark web.
“When I was at Northwest doing undergrad work, any scam message was very noticeable with poor English and misspellings,” Lehman said in an email to The Missourian. “Today, many messages appear legitimate, and we must ask ourselves ‘Does this make sense?’”
Lehman said that where students get caught the most is with job offers. Students like Chase are noticing emails that are offering jobs that pay around $500 a week to do the work.
Despite knowing the sender was just after her money, Chase was curious to see what would happen if she looked interested and responded back. The sender eventually stopped replying to her after she continued to refuse to send money.
Lehman and Northwest’s technology services advise students to not click on any links if they receive a suspicious email and to send the message to the help desk as soon as possible.
When a message is reported, the Office of Information Technology will confirm if it is malicious and will then destroy it if it is. Lehman said the office then goes through the servers to see if the message is anywhere in it and destroys those as well, preventing possible scams.
While students may need to decide whether or not an email is legitimate, Chase was prepared to handle the scam because of information she had learned from her computer science class last semester.
“My professor told us to look at the email address for weird symbols or letters in place of numbers,” Chase said. “Another thing to look out for are sketchy links or any fees they want you to pay first.”
Chase had received multiple scam emails at the beginning of the semester but ignored them, stating that she ignores any email address she doesn’t recognize.
“In the technology filled world we live in today, scam emails are inevitable,” Lehman said. But even so, Northwest has tools put in place to block malicious attachments and large scam emails, but some are bound to slip through.
Northwest does its best to help protect students and help educate them about scam emails and phishing. The Office of Information Technology hosts phishing events, publishes educational videos and has spam blocking technology put in place.
Lehman also stated that Northwest is beginning the rollout a two-factor authentication to students, faculty and staff. Two-factor authentication is where students have to enter two factors to have access to the system, such as a password and a code, and it works to ensure information is secure.
Although there are safeguards put in place to protect students from scams, it is ultimately up to students to decide if an email is legitimate or not.
Reporting a scam is one of the first things students should do with scams. Lehman puts it best, “Better safe than sorry.”