Scam puts email addresses at risk

April 17, 2014

Throughout the past few weeks there has been a phishing scam circling the university. Three types of emails with the same threat have been sent to students’ NYU email addresses.

Students who either click on the links provided within the emails or respond to the emails with personal information are in danger of being scammed. If someone falls victim to the scam, their account will send out emails to other NYU affiliated addresses.

Google then suspends the student’s NYU email address and account, and the student will lose access to NYU Wi-Fi, until the student proves he did not send the emails.

Aidan Dahlin Nolan, who graduated from the Tisch School of the Arts with a master’s in 2010, said he received a couple of these emails from other NYU addresses in the last few weeks. However, Nolan said there were signs that the emails were illegitimate.

“It was pretty easy to tell that it was a phishing email,” Nolan said. “I think the text noted that it was coming from the ‘IT administrater’ — so the spelling was a dead give away — and it wasn’t signed by anyone. Additionally, the note asked for details the [Information Technology Services] department could easily access on their own.”

ITS warns students about security threats by posting alerts on both the NYU ITS website and the NYU home page.

“Phishing messages appear to be sent from NYU, ITS, or other organizations affiliated with NYU requesting your personal information such as name, date of birth, password, etc,” an email from ITS said.

The email said students are strongly encouraged to disregard these emails and not reply to them. The ITS department also has information on its website to help students detect and avoid phishing emails.

“ITS will never request your password information,” the email said. “If a message informs you of an impending account closure or similar action unless you comply with its demands, it is often a sign that the message is a phishing scam.”

However, even though ITS has extensive information about scams on its website, some students remain unaware of the existence of the alerts posted on the NYU home page and the ITS website.

CAS freshman Eugenia Efstathiou said she did not know about the phishing scam.

“I’ve never heard of it, none of my friends have been scammed and no one has warned me about it,” Efstathiou said.

Steinhardt freshman Chelsea Lim said ITS should warn students about the phishing scam emails.

“I wouldn’t know about it if ITS didn’t send me a specific email about it,” Lim said.

The computer security department of ITS did not answer inquiries about the frequency of scam emails and the reason why ITS has not sent emails to warn students about phishing emails.

Nolan said the university should try to build up more security on its online platforms.

“I’m not a very tech savvy person, so I’m not sure what NYU can do,” Nolan said. “Perhaps they could add in an extra layer of security there.”

A version of this article appeared in the Thursday, April 17 print edition. Marita Vlachou is a staff writer. Email her at news@nyunews.com. 

*Correction: A previous version of this article stated that Aidan Dahlin Nolan was a Tisch graduate student. He graduated from Tisch with a master’s degree in 2010.

WSN regrets the error.

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