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OIT warns students of more ‘phishing’

Will Puckett | Friday, January 16, 2004

Prompted by a severe increase in fraudulent phone calls and e-mails to Notre Dame students, the Office of Information Technology will be sending out a security alert via e-mail in the near future.

According to Gary Dobbins, director of information security for the University, this is a problem that students should take very seriously.

“We’ve seen a dramatic rise in ‘phishing’ type exploits, where someone contacts students on the telephone or via e-mail and sounds a heck of a lot like Visa or Mastercard, asking for personal information such as credit card numbers,” Dobbins said. “We’re just trying to make people aware that they’re going to be hit with this.”

Dobbins said OIT tries very hard to keep on top of new threats, but the threats are simply too numerous to completely stop them. Hence, students must guard themselves against would-be thieves.

“A good rule of thumb might be to never give out private information over the phone to anyone unless you made the call,” Dobbins said. “If someone contacts you wanting personal information, offer to call them back at the number listed on the credit card company’s website, or whatever it is.”

So-called “phishing” has become an increasing problem nationwide.

The full extent of the swindles is unknown, but several major Internet service providers and universities have reported problems, and increasing media attention is being directed at the topic.