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IT Plans to Stop E-Mail Hoaxes

With aftershocks still being felt nationally from Epsilon’s consumer database breach at the end of March, the Valdosta State University Information Technology department will mull a new solution to stop the onslaught of subsequent email hoaxes.

Epsilon provides consumer information and market research to thousands of business, ranging from banks to boutiques. The company also gathers information through social networking sites, like Facebook and Twitter.

And with millions of email addresses now available to automated mass-mailing software from the Epsilon breach, the IT department warns VSU email users to scrutinize every email and to never send out sensitive data via email.

This Friday, IT will begin discussing the possibility of integrating Microsoft’s new Forefront software into VSU’s email system.

Forefront would provide more aggressive protection from email-based malware – or malicious software – and data phishing via email.

William Moore, Chief Security Officer for the Division of Information Technology, says the Information Technology department will make a decision on ForeFront Friday.

“We have to find out what’s on Microsoft’s calendar and what’s on ours,” Moore said. “We really don’t want to do it in the middle of finals. We want to make sure it’s an opportune time for campus as well, with the least impact as possible.”

Like most other larger institutions, VSU uses “reputation filters” to blacklist the email addresses of known spammers. Microsoft ForeFront would be integrated into the current system to provide additional support to current filtration protocols.

Moore estimates that the current security measures block between 300,000 to 500,000 thousand spam message every day, and 95-97 percent of email messages transmitter over the campus’ servers are spam.

But while spammers may be blacklisted or banned from sending email through the campus mail system, email addresses may still be shared between spammers.

“You will see spam from various companies around Valdosta,” Moore said. “How they get that information, I’m not really sure.”

Moore advises those who have received numerous phishing or spamming attempts from the same email address in their Windows Live mail account to take advantage of the “Block and Allow” feature in the “Options” menu of the account.

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