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Hackers Used Otago University to Relay 1.5 Million Spam

Hackers gained access to the mail server of staff member of Otago University recently and accessed it to send almost 1.55 Million spam mails in 60 hours, after deceiving four of the staff members into divulging their login data.

Information Services Manager, Mike Harte, said that the large volume of spam leads to the rejection or delay of authentic mails by other systems, as per the news reported by ZD Net on August 15, 2008.

Mike also said that they were sent again after the spam attack was done. The staff members replied to spear phish mails which appeared to have come from IT department and direct the user to check his login details, otherwise his mail access will be withdrawn.

As per the University officials, the attackers not only violated the clean IP reputation of the University, they also blacklisted the mail servers causing a DoS attack to its students and staff.

Also, the University is witnessing delivery and access events with Stonebow webmail. Several Stonebow accounts were hacked by staff members replying to a phishing mail. These accounts are used for circulating spam. This has led to blacklisting the University mail server by several providers.

As per the security experts, equipped with login data, hackers can hack a mail address within few hours by connecting to systems which are outside the University and dispatch more spam mails or phish.

Mike also added that instead of issuing alert, probing into the reason and origin of the case is important. Further, users can be made aware of any further similar events, as reported by Otago Daily Times on August 15, 2008.

During April 2008, the staff of University was cautioned not to get trapped in any fake mails after same kind of events happened in New Zealand Universities. That alert has been again repeated.

Mike also informed that any demand of login details can prove fake in most of the cases. To prevent such kinds of fraud events, the user should protect his login data as carefully as any other PIN and should never divulge it to anybody.

Related article: Hackers Redirect Windows Live Search to Malicious Sites

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