Kat Riddler, Managing Editor

Students coming back to the University of Missouri-St. Louis for the spring semester might be met with a possible email scam.

On January 17, Information Security Officer Mark Monroe sent out a campus-wide email alerting everyone to a possible email scam new to campus. Monroe wrote, “We have first of its kind exploits, like Spectre and Meltdown, and we have seen some very effective spear phishing campaigns. UMSL’s IT department is working as quickly as possible to patch our systems for Spectre and Meltdown, but we need the entire university community to assist with the phishing.”

This scam is spear phishing that targets student Peoplesoft instances like myView and creates a fake site mimicking the site. Monroe noted that two of the four University of Missouri campuses were targeted by the same scam. Monroe warned, “UMKC was hit last week and MU was hit this past weekend. I am sure we will be next.”

The UMKC scam started with an email from what appeared to be helpdesk on behalf of the cashier’s office, according to Monroe. The fake email asked recipients to go to Pathways to confirm their account because of system maintenance. If someone clicked the link, it went to the mock Pathways site. However, if you hover the mouse on the link, Monroe said, “It was actually sending people to umkc(.)umsystem(.)ga. (I have broken the link on purpose so it does not work and does not get caught by anti-spam.)”

The link was fine until it did not end with .edu.

Once on the fake site, users entered their username and password and received a message saying, “thank you for activating your account” and were redirected to the real site where they could log in where everything worked.

This scam worked for a while because this setup was so convincing. However, they used logins to steal student paychecks.

Monroe asked students to stay vigilant for fraud emails like this. He said, “This is also the time of year when people send fake job scams, offering student jobs pretending to be from UMSL. If you want student jobs, please visit Career Services at UMSL and ignore those emails. If you get any phishing emails or fake jobs emails, please report them to abuse@umsl.edu so we know about them and we can work to prevent future issues.”