November 27, 2020

Heightened Awareness for Phishing Attempts/Spam

On March 31st Epsilon, a company that provides commercial email services, sent notice to their customers that they had experienced a data breach. Their customer list includes over 2500 clients including TIAA CREF, US Bank, JPMorgan Chase, Citibank, American Express and Capital One. The data that was lost includes a list of each organizations client email addresses and their full names.  A full list of companies affected is available here: http://www.securityweek.com/massive-breach-epsilon-compromises-customer-lists-major-brands

As a result, a notable increase of SPAM and phishing email has permeated the Internet. The resulting phishing attempts will be more difficult to spot as they will target only customers of their respective institutions and will be able to personalize the messages.  This is known as spear-phishing.

We want to remind everyone that you should never provide any password or account information to anyone via email. Users should be especially vigilant in the next few weeks. All email should be considered suspect. Users should avoid clicking links within email, instead opening your browser of choice and hand typing the company’s address.

The university blocks thousands of SPAM messages every hour, but due the sheer volume and quality of this round of phishing messages, some may make it through our system.  Additionally other personal mail providers will likely experience similar spikes in unwanted email. We want to ensure that the UMW community is aware of the dangers and repercussions of this recent incident.

There are several steps that you should take to protect your account if you receive a phishing email:

  • Immediately delete any message that you get asking for your credentials or any other personal information.  Do NOT respond to these messages!
  • If you replied to a phishing message or believe that your account has been compromised, change your password immediately.
  • If you need assistance in accessing your account, and / or in correcting a problem with your account, please contact the IT Help Desk at helpdesk@umw.edu or at 540-654-2255.
About Brynn Boyer

Brynn Boyer is assistant director of media and public relations and a 2010 graduate of UMW.