Over the last couple of months higher ed institutions have seen a dramatic increase in the amount of malicious content contained in emails.

At Carleton, over the past four months we have seen a 46% increase in spam and emails with malicious attachments and last month over 80% of email messages coming into our email gateway were blocked by our spam blockers.

Much of the malicious code that is flagged is in the form of phishing (attempts to get personal information from you, such as your password), malware (viruses that can infect your computer and files), and ransomware (software that denies you access to your computer or files by encrypting files on your hard dive and only releasing the files once a ransom is paid).

While Carleton’s security technologies such as email security and anti-virus help prevent much of these attacks, some do get through as the volume and sophistication of attacks continues to increase.

To help reduce Carleton’s risk, you can:

  • Backup your data. Save your work to your G:, P: or W: drives – ITS backs these up on a daily basis.
  • Browse safely.  If you receive a notice that a website may not be safe, best to adhere to this warning. Enable browser pop-up blockers.
  • Be wary of unsolicited email.Be careful about clicking on links and opening files contained in emails.
  • Keep your software up to date.Software updates are often bundled with security updates. It’s important to install these updates as they are issued. ITS regularly patches standard applications supported in the standard windows image. If you provide technical support for systems or applications, ensure that you keep them updated with the latest security patches.
  • Install antivirus software. ITS distributes and manages Trend Micro anti-virus for on-campus use and a home version is also available for all staff and faculty. ITS has a version of Trend Micro for Apple OSX. We also recommend installing antivirus on your smartphone.

If you do receive an email that you believe is phishing, malware or ransomware, do not respond and report it to the ITS Service Desk.