Summer phishing scam

By Cassy Sottile and Erica Quinones
News Editors
A recent bout of phishing hit the email accounts of Washington College students, faculty, and staff.
Phishing is the sending of emails or text messages to trick people into revealing personal information like “passwords, account numbers, or Social Security numbers,” according to the Federal Trade Commission. These messages often masquerade as companies claiming a user’s account has had suspicious activity, new log-in attempts, or problems with payment information. They also often include links to websites where the user can enter their account information.
The most recent emails affecting WC users follow this pattern with various “Webmail Administrators” claiming that the receiver’s “Email Access have been restricted” due to an attempted sign-in. It requests the user click a link and enter their log-in information to validate their account, lest they be blocked from receiving and sending new mail. However, in an Aug. 9 email to students, Director of Enterprise Applications Regina Elliot confirmed the emails as phishing.
“Washington College OIT will [n]ever ask that any email or other account and or password be confirmed or verified via email,” Elliot said in her email.
Elliot also said in the email that users should neither answer nor click on the phishing email or its link. Rather, they should ignore and delete the message immediately. If they are an Outlook user, they should mark the message as spam. This can be done by selecting the menu under “Junk” then clicking the “Phishing” option.
This latest bout comes approximately five months after the last phishing attempt, in which WC accounts were used to send emails requesting receivers download their message. It also comes six months after an attempt to gather user credentials to send out additional spam messages. Those emails used subject lines which referenced topics users had emailed previously, and appeared to come from legitimate sources with an .xyz domain.
To minimize harm done by phishing, students are encouraged to use different passwords for different sites.
In an Elm article from Feb. 14, former Systems Engineer for OIT Jesse Lamb said, “If two passwords, for your email and maybe for your bank, are the same, the spammer now has access to financial information and could easily transfer funds from your account before you even notice your email has been compromised.”
If a WC email user has replied to a phishing email, Elliot said that they should change their email account’s password, check their outbox for messages they did not send, and notify the HelpDesk at The HelpDesk will inform OIT about the phishing attempt and initialize a logout of all the student’s active email sessions.
“If you receive an email that asks you to enter your credentials to access and you were not expecting an email of this type, it is most likely a scam. If you recognize the sender, check with them first to ensure they knowingly sent it. It’s possible they were unaware their account was compromised,” Lamb said in the Feb. 14 Elm article.

One thought on “Summer phishing scam

  1. We appreciate this notification! Phishing is a direct violation of the XYZ Anti-Abuse policies.

    Please submit the name of the domain that is abusive to so that our Anti-Abuse Team can investigate and further help to protect the students.

    Reporting abuse directly to the registry is the most effective way to counteract attacks, as XYZ can take direct action on names in violation of our Anti-Abuse Policies.

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