Student inboxes flooded by scammers

Jessie Goodson, Campus Carrier news editor

Over the summer, Berry students may have received at least one (or 12) emails that were anything but legitimate. Hopefully, nobody clicked on the link or opened the document. Unfortunately, that isn’t the case for many students. 

Over 300 student accounts were compromised within a few short months. This scam began at the end of last semester and escalated quickly into the summer. Berry firewalls and Microsoft worked hard to keep most of them out, but by disguising themselves as students and IT workers, these scammers were able to send thousands of emails to Berry students and further into the community.

“It was an annoyance, but it was also potentially devastating,” Daniel Boyd, senior network architect, said. 

Boyd emphasized the threat of the scammers reaching other accounts when students use the same login credentials for things like social media and banking accounts. The IT workers will never ask students for their passwords, so Boyd tells students to never give out that information, especially over email. 

There were two types of scam emails sent out: one with links and one with attached documents. The emails normally came from disguised Berry accounts, or from accounts that had previously been hacked. 

A large factor in the number of emails sent was that they were harder to block outside of Berry. A spam filter is in place on campus that catches around 10,000-20,000 emails every day before they reach student inboxes. 

“If you are on campus, we can catch a lot more than we can if you’re off campus,” Penny Evans-Plants, chief information officer, said. 

Incoming freshman who hadn’t heard about the emails before were also receiving them. The IT department even had to add a new feature to SOAR this year to locate and fix hacked accounts. 

“Every time we think it’s calmed down, it starts back up again,” Evans-Plants said. 

The emails are still coming, and IT stressed that the only way to prevent more, is user education. As Cyber Awareness Month approaches in October, Boyd and his team will be working hard to spread the importance of account security through various events across campus.

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