EliApps spam filters snag Yale emails

Students likely have some Yale-related emails sitting in their spam folders due to Google’s tightening of its spam security system over the summer.

Google, along with other email services such as Yahoo, began blocking more Yale messages because frequent phishing attacks against Yale email accounts hurt the “reputation” of Yale-affiliated emails last year, said Loriann Higashi, manager of the Student Technology Collaborative. ITS administrators said they addressed the problem in mid-July by collaborating with Google to prevent legitimate Yale-related emails from being sorted in EliApps spam folders, and in August, the University adopted a new virus and phishing service, Proofpoint, designed to detect and discard phishing emails before they enter a user’s inbox.

Blocked messages included University-wide announcements, notices to students of electronic tuition payments and emails from professors and student organizations, Higashi said.

Students who forward their email from EliApps to a third-party mail provider, such as Gmail, do not receive any emails filtered into EliApps’ spam folder. Though ITS has largely resolved the spam filtering problem with EliApps, these students still have to face their Web client’s spam features, such as Google’s tightened spam security system, said Adam Bray ’08, assistant manager for the Student Technology Collaborative.

Summer Baxter ’15 said she missed emails from her editors at the Yale Undergraduate Law Review, and Hayden Latham ’15 said a week passed before she read information about a program she was taking part in this summer in New Haven.

“At first I was just anxious that I had missed something so important, and then I was just relieved that I caught it early on,” Latham said. “I have a friend who missed weeks worth of email because of the spam filters. Now I’m still paranoid about checking my spam every so often.”

Hannah Albert ’15, who forwards her mail to a Gmail account, said after she found an announcement from a professor in her spam folder, she went onto her EliApps account and found several messages which had gone unnoticed throughout the year.

ITS administrators said they hope the new phishing protection service, Proofpoint, will result in a reduction in actual spam. All Yale email account holders have their emails screened through the service, which automatically discards all messages marked as phishing attacks or malware.

In the past, ITS used the a service called Cloudmark to tag spam and another service, Clam AV, to identify viruses and malware, but Proofpoint now acts against all of these threats, Higashi said, adding that it is already apparent that Proofpoint is a significant improvement over the previous system.

Other companies such as U-Haul, PETCO and Burlington Coat Factory also use Proofpoint.

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