Phishing scam affects campus email


Butler University student emails were blocked due to a spam link during the first weekend of September, according to Butler University Information Technology.

The email included a link that, once clicked, sent thousands of messages to other accounts. The hyperlink was from an internet business company and appeared to be from a Butler domain.

Certain email providers, such as Hotmail and MSN, received multiple spam messages from and began to prevent the university’s outbound email. Emails sent by students or faculty were “bounced-back,” blocked, delayed or marked as spam by recipients. Approximately 150 people contacted the IT desk about the spam message.

IT said the issue originated when six people clicked on the link and started to send out spam. IT changes their passwords and reset their information to prevent further spam.

Some email providers stopped all delivery from Butler email to outside non-Butler addresses on Sept. 8. The Butler email domain was “blacklisted” by outside email providers, which continued to prevent the delivery of messages. Students were informed to send out emails again if they were blocked or bounced-back.

Junior Karla Jeggle had problems communicating with her internship. The issues were of time sensitive manner, and she said her emails were continually bounced back.

“There are still companies that I have not heard back from since the phishing scam,” Jeggle said. “It didn’t affect me in a major way; it was more of an inconvenience.”

Eric Schmidt, chief information security officer, described Butler’s internet security wall blocks more than 1 million spam messages every week. Approximately 6 percent of all spam break through the firewall and are sent to emails.

“We rely on users to be aware of phishing attempts,” Schmidt said. “We had 150 [students] that contacted, but there were a thousand accounts that received it.”

Most outbound email could be sent by 6 p.m. on Sept. 8. Students were instructed by IT to use their personal non-Butler emails to contact outside providers if necessary.

As of Sept. 12 Butler’s domain was still blocked by certain providers. IT worked to unblock from organizations. Students and staff were instructed to forward bounced-back mail to for further tracking information.

Senior Tyler Springer had problems with the email scam. Springer was trying to communicate with organizations about internships. His emails were not going through and placed in “junk” folders. He did not contact IT, but was frustrated with the brief timeline.

“I have so many important emails to send and receive and internships to communicate with,” Springer said.

Springer said he continues to have problems with outbound mail, despite the “all clear” issued by IT.

This past Friday, IT notified students outbound email was working and delivering to providers. IT is working to place more restrictions on the 6 percent of spam leaking through each week.

Senior Lily Pickett is a residence assistant. She works at the front desk of a residence hall, and was not sure if students were receiving their emails about packages or are affected by the scam. She encountered some of the confusion associated with the situation.

“I understand how frustrating this is for those directly involved, but the emails have created a wave that has left people previously unaffected wondering if problems with their email are related to the off-campus phishing issue,” Pickett said.

Practicing internet safety is important for all users in preventing further phishing scams, according to IT. Their advice is to not click on unknown links, and never enter your username or password into websites you are unsure about.