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This message to University Announcements was

approved by the Office of the Chief Information Officer.



Message from Fairfield CIO: Response to Recent Cyber Attacks and Breaches – BE AWARE


In Information Technology Services (ITS), we put the security of our University network and data at the utmost importance. It is imperative that we stay ahead of sophisticated external cyber attacks and be collectively and individually smart about the technology we use. Did you know that 95% of all breaches occur by inadvertent participants (i.e. everyday users), unknowingly yet actively responding to phishing attempts and/or downloading documents from unknown senders. We need your participation and support in denying entry into our systems.


What is Happening Today


Ransomware is a type of malware which restricts access to the computer system that it infects, and demands a ransom be paid to the creator(s) of the malware in order for the restriction to be removed. Ransomware ‘happens’ as a computer worm. It enters a system/network by a user providing a username/password, by a user clicking an unfamiliar link, by a user downloading a document.


Just last night Anthem reported they were the target of a major data security breach. At this time, we do not have any further information to help field employees’ questions. Anthem will individually notify current and former members whose information has been accessed and they have created a dedicated website for users,


What are WE Doing to Deflect Attempts and Attacks


Fairfield University has a variety of safeguards in place combating known viruses and phishing attempts. Millions of threat emails are stopped before any University employee or student sees them, by design. On occasion, an email will slip through safeguards. If you receive what you suspect to be a dangerous email, please forward to ITS. We can identify the sender and, if it proves to be a threat, we can block the sender permanently. We can usually disable any links contained within the email itself, preventing another user from accidentally accessing. Our job is to protect, but we also need all University users to be on the lookout for anything that seems suspicious.


Our Request for Your Action


Do not respond to or participate in questionable emails. Your ITS department will never ask for your user name or password – via any medium, via any vendor, via any University system, via email. Do not download documents or click on hyperlinks from an unverified source. In addition, always go with your gut on these situations. If you feel a red flag, assume a red flag and contact the ITS Help Desk with any questions.


Don’t partake of misc. apps connecting to University systems. There are legitimate applications being developed that change the configuration of how the original application works. A great example is the release of a new app for iPhones, iPads and Android devices that they are calling Outlook.  It is not Outlook as we know it. This application, which was acquired from a separate company and not developed by Microsoft, can be used in place of the built-in email programs on Android, iPhones, and iPads to connect to Fairfield's Exchange email server. However, it is not safe. The application does not operate like the Windows and Mac versions of Microsoft Outlook, as it stores usernames and passwords on servers that are not controlled by Fairfield's IT department. If you have the app, remove it and change your password. Please use the email programs inherent to your devices or OWA.



Threats are often disguised in a way that tricks a user into clicking on an email, survey or web link that looks harmless. ITS is committed to protecting users’ data and our Fairfield University network. To accomplish this we need all users to be aware of how these breaches occur. In order to prevent these attacks, nothing should ever be downloaded if the user is unsure of where it came from or what it is pertaining to.


We will continue to do everything in our power to make our systems and security processes better and more secure, and will continue to update you on new threats as we learn of them.




Paige Francis


Paige Francis
Chief Information Officer

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