By Laura Mortkowitz
The Office of Information Technologies (OIT) is taking the good with the bad after a summer of changes. The office has updated its service, but the university has become prey to e-mail scammers.
On the good end, students will now be able to access 24/7 technology assistance from the Help Desk at x. 3000.
“[The service] is to enhance the ability to respond to service interruptions outside of business hours,” said Carol Kondrach, assistant vice president of OIT.
However, don’t expect a technician to come around to residence halls. The 24/7 Help Desk is located in Kentucky with a service provider called Presidium Learning.
“They provide what we call Tier One telephone support for Blackboard, MS Word and browser issues,” Kondrach said.
According to Kondrach, the problems Presidium helps with are ones that “they can answer over the phone in 10 minutes.”
Anything harder to fix will be taken down for OIT to work on during the next business day.
Plus, the annual cost of using Presidium is “significantly less than the cost of one full-time person with benefits,” said Kondrach.
As the new service was set up during the summer, returning students might have noticed a number of e-mails requesting their passwords. These phishing scams are the bad news for OIT.
“We have been targeted for a couple of months now,” said Kondrach. “Really through the summer.”
Rider isn’t the only college to fall victim to scammers, but students should never respond to these e-mails, she said.
“One person responds and their identity, and our network, becomes compromised,” Kondrach said. “We’re doing everything in our power [to block] the phisher from contacting people in this way.”
These e-mails often use the pretense of updating the server or protecting against spam mail and request the student to provide some critical information: full name, e-mail address and password.
“Your Username will be disabled if you do not send us the required information within 48 hours,” according to the latest e-mail.
Since OIT would never ask for a student’s password through e-mail, no one should ever respond to the messages.
“If you do respond, or you think you responded, then you should change your password immediately,” Kondrach said.
Otherwise, phishers can gain access to everything the student’s password can.
“This is a business for people who do this,” she said. “They’re hanging around because people are responding to them.”
Students who receive these e-mails are encouraged to simply ignore and delete them. If the community does this, then the phishers will go away when they don’t get what they want, Kondrach said.
Even while OIT works at blocking the phishers, it isn’t always successful.
“We block the mechanism they’re using to contact us and they find another one,” she said. “It’s a cat-and-mouse game.”