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Using campus e-mail can be a double-edged sword

By James Kelley
Arizona Summer Wildcat
Wednesday July 17, 2002

Students and staff should subscribe to a security listserv to keep up to date on security issues and not open unexpected e-mail attachments, especially with computer security issues becoming a priority on university campuses, said officials from the Center for Computing Information and Technology .

Since UA WebMail accounts are accessed via a secure Web site, it is almost impossible for somebody to access another person‚s account, said Mike Torregrossa, associate director of Computing Services for CCIT.

However, UA computer users who use Outlook Express or other e-mail download programs may need to go into the program to equip it to use the encryption feature, which gives the account added protection.

Last month, the Secret Service and ASU police seized about 20 computers in a possible connection to the Russia mafia.

Police at Pasadena City College in California arrested a Russian immigrant in May for allegedly attempting to install software that could obtain the credit card numbers, e-mails, passwords and social security numbers of people using the computers.

The arrest came as part of an investigation into a number of infiltrations into university computers, possibly with a Russian mafia connection.

Although an alert about the incident at ASU has been sent out to UA departments, there is no connection to the UA, said Bill Phillips Jr., a member of the CCIT Security Incident Response Team and CCIT systems analyst.

Other universities in California, Arizona, Texas and Florida that have become targets of potentially fraudulent computer use are also under investigation.

The seizure of computers at ASU also raised the question of e-mail privacy, as ASU students who used the public access computers were afraid that their personal information would be exposed.

University employees‚ e-mail is a public record, available upon request, under Arizona law and UA policy.

In order to follow this policy, UA workers are instructed to either save e-mail into a folder or print it out and save a hard copy if they want to delete it, said Richard King Jr., director of UA Records Management & Archives.

Even though the policy refers to employees, students are warned their UA e-mails may be made public, and are encouraged to use alternative means to convey personal messages.

„An e-mail to your girlfriend or mother would probably not be a state record but could be. People need to be very careful of what they say,š King said. „There should be no expectation of privacy,š he said.

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