On Oct. 19, several Harding students, faculty and staff received emails appearing as official Harding messages. The messages were not actually from Harding, but were being used as a means of infiltrating Harding email accounts.
This type of security breach can be used as an attempt to send out large volumes of spam messages from a user’s email account or to steal information from a student’s Pipeline account, such as a social security number or payroll information.
Lora Fleener, director of student technical services, encourages everyone to exercise great caution when receiving messages that could potentially be used for harmful purposes. Even with Harding’s security measures in place, cybersecurity threats cannot be prevented entirely.
Specifically, students should be wary of suspicious details in the messages they receive. In the Oct. 19 email, for example, the sender’s email address was not a Harding email address, the email’s greeting was impersonal (“Dear user”), the link provided was not a Harding URL and the message was stated to be from the Georgia Southern University System.
Fleener strongly urges students to change their passwords regularly and refrain from using the same password for all accounts. She also points out that some networks, such as Harding’s guest network, are not as safe as some of Harding’s more secure networks, and should be used with extreme discretion.
If students have an issue with the networks on Harding’s campus or anything else related to computer and/or Internet usage, Fleener encourages them to contact DormNet, the student IT service, for help.
“The network is constantly being monitored to make sure it’s up and working, so we’re going to know when there’s a problem,” Fleener said. “I want people to understand that we do try to keep on top of things. We’re here to help.”
Students who need help may call DormNet to speak with a student worker during the week, email DormNet at email@example.com for help during the weekend, or consult the DormNet blog at dormnet.blogspot.com for prepared information on a variety of IT issues.
On Oct. 5, an alert went out to a few Harding students urging them to evacuate because of a gas leak. Harding’s Public Safety Department clarified soon after that the alert was incorrect and should be disregarded.
According to Kevin Davis, deputy director of operations for Harding’s Public Safety Department, the false alert was traced within a couple of hours to a community college in the Houston area that accidentally put the alert out to former students without specifying the campus, college or any other details. Students in various universities throughout a 12-state area received this emergency alert.
Davis clarifies that the Everbridge Emergency Notification System, Public Safety’s alert system, is only used for major emergencies (aside from the yearly disaster drill test), like tornadoes and school closings.
“We do our best to not cry wolf,” Davis said. “We want our student body to be informed, but we don’t want to blast them with information, which is why we limit what our emergency notification system is used for. Students, faculty and staff know that an alert from us is a true emergency that they need to pay attention to. We work closely with a number of departments on campus to make sure that anything the community needs to know about is put out as quickly and accurately as possible.”
Harding’s Public Safety office is available 24/7 via phone call, including weekends and holidays.