With subject lines like “GET THIS SUMMER JOB” and “free job opening” getting more common in our SIUE inboxes, it’s worrying that SIUE’s filters aren’t catching spam emails more often. Whether it means getting better spam filters or teaching staff and students to be more aware, something needs to be done.
The problem of these emails isn’t new — in fact, they tend to use methods we at The Alestle have covered, such as “spoofing”, and other similar methods such as “phishing”. These methods, despite having traits in common, are different. Still, both are showing up increasingly in student inboxes.
The FBI defines spoofing as a method of disguising a form of contact, in this case, emails, as being from a trusted person, and seeking private information for malicious purposes. Conversely, phishing attempts to mimic emails from a company or organization and links you to a fake version of the real organization’s website in order to have you provide login credentials or other sensitive information.
While these emails may on the surface just seem to be annoying and obvious scams, they’re not obvious to everyone. Some of the emails even appear to be fully legitimate, making credible looking email signatures or using the names of professors. Unfortunately, many fall for these scams, and end up sharing details like their personal email addresses or their phone numbers with scammers.
When people fall for these scams, it comes from a lack of technological literacy. Many will respond wholeheartedly to these scam emails without even checking where it comes from. When you get an email that claims to be from a professor but is using a domain other than siue.edu to send it, you should double check that the email isn’t fraudulent. You can do this by checking for a professor by their name under SIUE’s People Search. Even if they come up under the entry, it’s best to email the professor through their SIUE email to verify if they sent the email.
It’s best to also consider if these offers are too good to be true. Sure, there are jobs you can take as a student that pay well. But if an email is offering you $350 a week for four hours of work, consider why any employer would be willing to pay $87.50 an hour to a part-time, entry-level student employee.
However, this cannot solely be the responsibility of those receiving these emails. SIUE needs to do more to create awareness for these scams, and prevent students and staff from giving out private information.
One of the solutions would be to implement training for students as well as faculty and staff to increase understanding of how to avoid these scams. Students could be taught how to recognize and ignore fraudulent emails via First Semester Transition, a required course helping freshmen transition into the SIUE community. When covering valuable resources and skills to navigate campus, technological literacy is just as important. Faculty and staff, similarly, could be trained to be aware of these scams as a mandatory training that goes along with their employment.
Another solution would be to implement more spam filtering systems for SIUE’s email system. While we understand that spam always finds a way to get past updates, dedicating more resources to help ITS implement regular updates would be of benefit to our community. These solutions listed could easily work in tandem with each other, so even when spam slips through the cracks, there’s more knowledge on how to avoid it.