A phishing email scam purporting to be President Ali Houshmand was sent to Rowan University faculty and staff on Monday, Feb. 10. The email titled, ‘faculty/staff revised and updated catalog from the President Dr. Ali A. Houshmand’ intended to trick targets into clicking on a malicious link.

The message, sent by an account named Ann.Freshour@hotmail.com, was immediately reported to Rowan Information Resources and Technology (IRT) and the malicious domain was blocked within fifteen minutes and posted to Rowan University’s twitter account given how widely the scam had been disseminated to Rowan staff and faculty, according to Assistant Director of Communications Erin O’Neill.

While the message was written in a professional manner and included a footer appearing to be from President Houshmand, the email address was a dead give-away.

“The email came from a Hotmail account, not a Rowan University account which is a major red flag,” O’Neill said.

Despite the clear red flag, it is important for all members of the Rowan community to remain vigilant.

“Universities are prime targets for cyber attacks due to the amount of valuable data and sensitive research materials stored on our networks,” O’Neill said. “Scammers often pose as people of authority, such as a University President, Senior Vice President or Dean, in an attempt to trick people into taking action on fraudulent emails.”

Earlier in the semester, Rowan IRT sent out an advisory warning students about email scams. It’s important to be cautious whenever receiving an email from an address they don’t recognize. IRT offers security awareness training by visiting go.rowan.edu/securitytraining, and can learn how to identify a potential scam by using the tips available at go.rowan.edu/phishing.
Students and faculty can view scams Rowan IRT has blocked at go.rowan.edu/scams.

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