13:47 08/11/16 Spam email outbreak

Spam Outbreak

The University of Reading has recently been hit with a Spam (also known as Junk Email or Unsolicited Email – see the Background section for more information) outbreak affecting a large number of staff. The spam is of a sexual nature and in some cases has caused a considerable amount of distress due to the quantity of emails and tone of the content. It contains a link embedded within the email – these links should not be clicked.

The Spam has been hard to detect with our automated systems due to the way that it is being distributed, but this is something we are working on. We are continuing to train our Anti-Spam systems to recognise the emails for what they are and to block them or deliver them to the AutoSpam folder.

This problem is now being reported across the UKHE sector and we are not alone in suffering from the effects of this Spam campaign or in finding it hard to tackle.

If you receive a piece of Spam email that has made its way through the Anti-Spam systems, then the easiest way to deal with it is to delete it. If you wish to you can edit your own settings to make your own Spam filtering more sensitive or to block addresses, but bear in mind that this may also filter out legitimate email.

If you receive emails that are causing you distress then please log a support request through the IT Portal where you can report the problem.

Background & Further Information

Spam is unsolicited email, in other words email that you are not expecting, did not ask for and do not want. According to Wikipedia the name comes from:

“Spam is named after Spam luncheon meat by way of a Monty Python sketch in which Spam is depicted as ubiquitous and unavoidable
At the time of writing it makes up a large amount of the total email sent across the world, with some estimates suggesting that 85-97% of all email in circulation is unwanted.”

Over the last week (w/c 31/10/2016) we have seen the following amounts of UK-based staff email go through our email systems and this demonstrates the total amount of unwanted, and in some cases malicious, email we receive and that is dealt with by UoR IT teams and services.


In other words, over the course of that week only about 15% of the total email that was received by the University was legitimate email that made it to Inboxes. The rest is rejected, discarded or filtered as it contains viruses, malware or has been identified as Spam.

If you have any further questions, please contact the IT Service Desk, either via the Self Service Portal (https://uor.topdesk.net/), email (it@reading.ac.uk), or phone 0118 378 (6262).