What is spam?
Spam email is a form of commercial advertising which is economically viable because email is a very cost-effective medium for the sender. If just a fraction of the recipients of a spam message purchase the advertised product, the spammers are making money and the spam problem is perpetuated.
Spammers harvest recipient addresses from publicly accessible sources, use programs to collect addresses on the web, and simply use dictionaries to make automated guesses at common usernames at a given domain.
Spamming is politically debated in several countries, and has been legislated some places with varying results. Spammers often conceal or forge the origin of their messages to circumvent laws, service provider regulations, and anti-spammer lists used by anti-spam software.
At the present more than 95% of email messages sent worldwide is believed to be spam, making spam fighting tools increasingly important to all users of email.
See Wikipedia for more about spam: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spam.
What is phishing?
Phishing (pronounced “fishing”) is a kind of identity theft which is growing in popularity amongst hackers. By using fraudulent websites and false emails, perpetrators attempt to steal your personal data – most commonly passwords and credit card information.
Criminals gain this information by sending you links to sites that look like sites you trust, such as your online banking provider or social networks, and are able to steal your data as you enter it. Some of the sites spoofed most regularly include PayPal, eBay, Yahoo! and MSN, as well as financial institutions – so don’t think that an email is guaranteed to be safe when it’s not from a bank.
Legitimate services will rarely (if ever) send messages requesting you to click a link and provide personal or sensitive information. Be sure to verify the source of the message before complying with such a request.
If you receive messages claiming to originate with payment services such as PayPal, eBay, financial institutions, or even the School District, please verify that the message is indeed sent from the service in question:
See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phishing for more information.
How does the School District deal with spam?
All SD61 email is filtered by two separate enterprise grade anti-spam and anti-malware systems:
- Microsoft Exchange Online Protection: Our first line of defense, Microsoft EOP filters all the email sent to school district users. Current statistics are unavailable.
- Barracuda Spam Firewall: Barracuda provides an extra layer of protection, and further scans emails that pass through the Microsoft filters. Of the average 6000 messages received per day, Barracuda further blocks 10% of them as SPAM.
By employing these methods, SD61 manages to filter approximately 800,000 undesirable emails per day, but unfortunately, some spam and junk emails may still end up in your mailbox.
I’ve received spam or had a phishing attempt, what do I do?
- Forward the email to email@example.com. We review all reported emails on a daily basis and act accordingly.
- Delete the email.
- If you responded to a phishing email and typed in personal or school district account information, call the Help Desk immediately at 475-4188 and change your password through the District Password Change utility.
- Email the Help Desk at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions.
Take a quiz to test your knowledge
The Ministry of Technology, Innovation and Citizen’s Services has a very good website “Information Security Awareness” that is full of useful security related information. Be sure to visit this site.