Multiple COCC students received a mass email August Third, prompting students to reply with personal information regarding their email account. This email, and emails like it, are meant to gain access to personal email accounts illegally.
“This is not an email from COCC,” said Chris Mills Admissions and Records. The email claimed to be sent officially from COCC staff, but was sent from an unknown person.
It’s called phishing. “In the field of computer security, phishing is the criminally fraudulent process of attempting to acquire sensitive information such as usernames, passwords and credit card details by masquerading as a trustworthy entity in an electronic communication,” says COCC’s website who uses Wikipedia’s definition.
“Never give out any information,” said JC Root at COCC’s help desk.
The recent email asked for information such as a name, password, and birth date. The email also stated that, “ you are required to answer this message and enter your ID and PASSWORD space… you should do so before the next 48 hours of receipt of this email.”
COCC student email accounts receive phishing emails every once and a while, according to Gordon Price, director of student life.
“We get these randomly throughout the year. More recently than usual,” wrote Price.
The emails, “come in waves,” said Wade Debraal who works in user services. “We’ll get hit pretty hard, and instructors and students end up giving out personal information,” said Debraal.
Phishing attacks are growing and are becoming more and more sophisticated and difficult to detect, says antiphishing.org. The non-profit website also explains that there are many tactics phishers use to attain a person’s personal information. The website also explains what to do if personal information is given out, which is dependant on the degree of information.
If personal information is given like, social security number, bank account number, or other sensitive information that can be used for identity theft:
• Report the theft to the three major credit reporting agencies, Experian, Equifax and TransUnion Corporation
• Contact your local police department to file a criminal report.
• Contact the Social Security Administration’s Fraud Hotline to report the unauthorized use of your personal identification information.
• File a complaint with the Internet Fraud Complaint Center (IFCC)
• Antiphishing.org also recommends forwarding the emailing to them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If personal information is given out pertaining to a COCC email account, or COCC related information:
• Change your email account password, and student login password on the COCC Student and Staff Online services.
• Send an email to teachers and contacts asking them to watch out for suspicious activity involving your email.
• Notify the College by forwarding the email to IT services.
“There is no reason for us (COCC) to ask for personal information, and there is no reason to give out personal information, period,” said Root.
You may contact Eric Ercanbrack at email@example.com