Student emails get compromised: UCM staff offer Internet safety tips

Written by Muleskinner Staff

By LEAH WANKUM
Managing Editor
(WARRENSBURG, Mo., digitalBURG) — With the new semester comes an increase in phishing.
Many UCM students have received emails and phone calls asking for money and offering jobs. These messages, however, are fraudulent.
Amber Goreham, director of the Career Services Center, said the increase in scams prompted a campuswide email as a proactive approach to make students aware of them.
“There’s been an increase in these fraudulent contacts basically reaching out to students directly through their UCM email, and in that email it’ll typically say your resume was received by Career Center,” Goreham said. “We’ve always had some kind of fraudulent activity but this has been a little bit new.”
Some of the scam emails include offering to pay large amounts of money for almost no work or before doing any work, offering to send a large check in exchange for bank account information to deposit checks or transfer money, or asking for credit card and bank account numbers or social security numbers, according to the university email.
Goreham said she advises students to do their research so they don’t fall for the first scam that comes their way.
“(We’re) just making sure students are very cautious when they receive those types of emails and that they can report it to Career Services or, if they want to, report it to the Office of Technology,” Goreham said. “Or if they’ve actually lost money, report it to Public Safety.”
An actual crime has been committed only after a student has lost money. At any point before that, however, Goreham said nothing can be done.
“Make sure that you try to pay attention to the red flags, and if you’re unsure and your gut is telling you ‘Gosh, something is not right,’ then it’s not right,” she said. “Notify someone in your department or Career Services that this doesn’t seem legitimate. That’s what Career Services is for.”
Goreham said she doesn’t think a lack of security with the university network is an issue. Rather, technology in general has made it easier for people to scam others.
“This is something we’ve always faced,” she said. “To be honest, when you think about all the jobs that come through our office… We’ve always had issues with fraudulent employers.
“Now there has been an increase over the summer with other ways people can target different students, different populations. Students return to school looking for jobs on campus or in the community. I think timing has more to do with it than anything.”
Mel Gross, manager of the UCM Technology Support Center, said the university received a significant increase of reports of 105 compromised email accounts, but at this point the TSC staff is looking at the human aspect of the security dilemma.
“I don’t think the system itself is a problem,” Gross said. “It’s more the way people use their email and respond to email and things like that. So it’s really easy to get a spam email, phishing email, and click on the link and all of a sudden you’ve got a problem.
“It’s definitely a trend we’re watching, keeping an eye on it.”
Gross said students should keep passwords unique from passwords for other accounts such as online banking and social media, and never share them with anyone in order to keep accounts secure.
“We’re also recommending that people not log into other applications with their Google credentials,” Gross said. “Don’t do that. That ties too many things together. Keep it separate. I know it’s a bigger hassle to remember the password but in the long run you’re better off to keep everything separate.”
Anytime students receive an email that seems suspicious, Gross said she advises students to delete it if they don’t know what the email is for.
“If it was an unsolicited email and you’re not sure about it, just delete it, get rid of it,” she said. “If you think someone needs to pay attention to it, forward it to the TSC account and we’ll take a look at it and see what’s going on with it.”
For more information about scam awareness, visit ucmo.edu/fraud or contact Amber Goreham at [email protected] or 660- 543-4985.