Local Politics

Email Phishing Attempts on Skidmore Escalating to Threat Level Russian

By George Lubitz

In the wake of an investigation looking into the apparent hacking of Skidmore email servers, Skidmore IT director David Dempsey noted the scale by which hackers tried to influence unsuspecting students into clicking malicious links within emails. Emails that seemed to utilize language virtually indiscernible from that used in standard IT communications.

Mr. Dempsey calls the scale of the operation comparable to that of Russian misinformation efforts in the 2016 presidential election.

Says Mr. Depsey: “It’s like they had special help in understanding the minds and voices of every day Skidmore IT personnel. There was definitely domestic collusion involved.”

Microsoft Office, the company that supplies email capabilities to Skidmore, was quick to dismiss reports that their cybersecurity was suseptible to these kinds of attacks. In recent weeks, however, they’ve been more coöperative with officials on providing the school with the tools and information necessary to get to the bottom of these attacks on Skidmore students and faculty.

New documents released to investigators by Microsoft show just how hackers were able to influence those who succumbed to the meddling efforts.


“If you’ll notice, the capitalization of random nouns, awkward spacing, pluralization of ‘staff,’ referring to Skidmore as a university, and the inclusion of a warm valediction like ‘Sincerely’ are all trademarks of typical IT comms,” said veteran IT staff member Haley McCormick. “It’s no wonder students and professors alike fell for such a convincing rouse.”

Many Skidmore senators have been quick to call for action by the school to ensure that hackers are promptly retaliated against. Others, however, were soft-spoken on the issue, and further investigation found close ties between those individuals and a Nigerian prince with a great investment opportunity.

This story is developing.

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