The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Opinion | How to protect students from spam emails

With a noticeable rise in spam emails and phishing emails being sent to student email accounts, new tools are needed to make sure students don’t fall victim to scams.
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With the increasing reliance for students at the University of Iowa on technology for their classes, as well as the importance of technology in everyday life, it is important for them to be secure online. 

The spam emails and phishing emails being sent online have increased dramatically. Increasing in the double digit percentages, they have grown more sophisticated as well. Impersonating well known organizations like UNICEF, and even the university itself, it is becoming harder and harder for students to know which emails are legit or not.

Scammers are growing more advanced and clever in their attempts to con students out of personal information, and the university has an obligation to help inform students how to spot these scams and what to do when they see them.

This is not just a problem at the UI. The university is far from alone in having to deal with an uptick in spam emails and scams. The advent of AI has unfortunately likely given scammers tools to produce more emails in greater quantities, which will make this task even harder than it already would have been.

There are several basic countermeasures the university has that students can and must utilize. Microsoft Outlook does allow the feature of reporting spam and suspicious emails, and flagging them. Students can and should also always forward the suspicious emails to the ITS help desk and ask them if they are suspicious or legitimate.

However, these tools and techniques are of little help when the fake emails and scams become more and more detailed and convincing. Students may be afraid of deleting the emails out of fears that the emails are actually legitimate and that deleting them may cause more problems than they might solve.

There are a few ways the university should try to help students. The most obvious, easiest, and most effective way to begin with would be to introduce classes that help teach students basic but essential online literacy and technical knowledge. Many of the ways to catch these spam emails and scams can be taught, such as how to catch flaws in the emails.

Oftentimes, the emails contain grammatical errors and other flaws, sometimes by design, in order for the scammers to weed out those who would be too tech savvy to fall for their scams and phishing attempts. 

Another way the University could, and likely should, is to focus on educating the freshmen classes in the OnIowa introduction classes. The class could teach technical literacy and how to spot these emails and scam attempts. The classes are required for students in their freshmen year to take so it would be quite opportune. 

With the increasing reliance we have on computers and emails, it becomes more important than ever for students to be on the lookout for scams and other fraudulent attempts by bad actors to try to con them out of information and money. By teaching freshmen and students technical literacy, the UI will be giving them more tools to do this. 

Columns reflect the opinions of the authors and are not necessarily those of the Editorial Board, The Daily Iowan, or other organizations in which the author may be involved.


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About the Contributor
Peter Anders, Opinions Columnist
Email: [email protected] Peter Anders is an Opinions Columnist at The Daily Iowan. He is a senior majoring in informatics and computer science while minoring in criminology. He primarily focuses on writing about technology and the effects it has on society.