IT: beware of phishing bait

If an official-looking e-mail asks for personal information, don’t answer it, Information Technology is warning the UH community.

The latest phishing scam went out Feb. 24 asking UH faculty to provide e-mail passwords, birthdates and country of residence to prevent their University e-mail accounts from being deleted.

The University’s policy is not to send e-mails asking for personal information or passwords from students, faculty or staff, he said.

"No legitimate administrator is going to ask you to send that type of information," IT Security Manager Brian Walker said.

The IT department is working to prevent safety breaches from affecting the UH community.

"We do have two different e-mail filtering programs that get most of the spam, but there is not a lot we can do to stop people from sending them," he said.

Walker said anyone who discloses personal information gives the recipients an opportunity to engage in identity theft.

He said phishing scams can lead to third parties accessing and altering a student’s records, dropping classes, access to e-mail, sending scams from that student’s e-mail and stealing financial aid money.

"If someone is interested in committing some kind of fraud, they are going to use it for whatever end they are able to," Walker said.

If a student does fall for a scam, they need to immediately change their password. If that does not work, students should get in contact with IT security at [email protected], he said.

Phishing is not a major problem at UH and no IT personnel are specifically assigned to managing it because people generally do not fall victim to scams, Walker said.

"We do get e-mails about it occasionally, but usually someone within the group has already gotten an e-mail similar to that," Walker said.

Students said they were not concerned about the e-mails.

"I just delete them," consumer science and merchandise senior Landon Jones said.

Business sophomore Piganti Bhatt said she has not received phishing e-mails.

"I never really get them," she said.

Walker said that if students, faculty or staff are suspicious about a security matter, e-mails can be sent to IT security.

For other problems, students can contact the support center at [email protected].

Phishers will keep sending e-mails, and for the most part there is nothing IT can do to prevent it, Walker said.

"There are always phishing scams going on," he said.

Walker said that if there is a scam or other issue causing trouble, IT security will send alerts via e-mail or post a bulletin on the IT Web site at

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