Phishing on campus

Jonah Hofmeyer — Staff Writer 

Phishing emails are defined by the Computer Security Resource Center (NSRC) as “a technique for attempting to acquire sensitive data, such as bank account numbers, through a fraudulent solicitation in email or on a website, in which the perpetrator masquerades as a legitimate business or reputable person.” 

Recently, Dordt University students and faculty received several phishing emails, one including a survey link. This survey asked for personal information like email logins and passwords. Brian Masters, system administrator at Dordt, helped deal with the spam emails.

“The hacker can harvest those credentials and use them and try again, so it’s a cycle,” Masters said. “It mainly comes down to where you enter your username and password.” 

Sandy Reitsma, Computer Support Specialist at Dordt, sent out an email on Sept. 20 warning students that recent phishing emails were illegitimate. Attached included a diagram showing students how to recognize phishing emails, and what steps to take when received. Masters emphasized that not every student needs to report a phishing email. 

“The only time that a student should definitely report [a phishing email] is if they believe they clicked on something they shouldn’t have.” Masters said. “Then we can help mitigate whatever might have happened.” 

Worldwide, over three-billion phishing emails are sent out each day. In 2021, 47 percent of sent emails were phishing emails, according to statistics from earthweb.com. 

One big red flag for phishing emails is language that encourages the receiver to act fast or miss out on an opportunity. Another red flag is spelling errors within the email. Phishing emails also have unfamiliar requests or toogood-to-be-true deals. 

Masters said Dordt students and faculty do a good job recognizing these types of emails and not falling for their traps. 

“It’s a manner of learning and getting a feel for what an email should look like.” Masters said. “And that’s just a learning process.”

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