Office of Information Security

The Office of Information Security is your contact for questions about OSU's Information Security Policies and Procedures. Our mission is to raise OSU's standards and practices for secure computing.

To do this, the OIS coordinates with academic and administrative units to develop policy, benchmark and assess our level of risk, and educate and inform our community on best practices.

Security Policy

OSU's IT security policy is currently undergoing a scheduled review process. The policy is published to and recent updates to the policy include:

Our Third Party Service Guide will help you determine if the information you are using is suitable for storing in or processing through a third party service and what steps need to be performed for certain types of information.

Security Awareness

  • OSU Computer Helpdocs provides general information on protecting your computer from malware and malicious intrusions.
  • Be Aware is a student-focused site which presents effective ways to respond to security threats.

Reporting Security Issues

If you are the victim of a security-related issue such as a phishing scam or spam attack:

Security Awareness Training

The Office of Information Security provides security training for departments on campus that deal with Protected and Sensitive Information, including Personally Identifiable Information (PII). To learn more about this training, please contact Dave Nevin, Chief Information Security Officer.

Resources for IT Professionals

The Office of Information Security is here to assist you in your efforts to keep your network resources protected. We offer Risk Assessment and Forensics services as well as vulnerability scanning. To learn more about the resources available for IT Professionals, please contact Rich Giesege, Senior Security Analyst.

Contact the Office of Information Security

If you are the victim of a security-related issue such as a phishing scam or spam attack, students should contact the OSU Computer Helpdesk and employees should contact their IT support staff.

Third Party Service Guide

There are a variety of distributed computing offerings on the Internet that offer good value and ease of use for those without the available resources and staffing to run their own systems. Commonly referred to as "cloud" computing, services such as Infrastructure as a Service (Iaas), Platform as a Service (PaaS), Software as a Service (SaaS) and off-site storage and backup services have become an important part of the Internet. Other service offerings marketed for widespread use by individuals, such as Dropbox, Cloud Drive, and iCloud offer similar abilities.

OSU doesn't discourage the use of these tools, but it has established policy to assist in compliance with the many laws and regulations we face. This guide will help you determine if the information you are using is suitable for storing in or processing through a third party service and what steps need to be performed for certain types of information.

How To Use This Guide

  1. First, become familiar with OSU's Information Systems - Data Classification and Stewardship Policy and with the specific data elements for Protected and Sensitive Information listed in Appendix A.
  2. Next, determine whether the information you wish to use on a Third Party Service is included in Appendix A.
    • If the information you wish to use on a Third Party Service is not included in Appendix A, and there are no contractual obligations preventing you from storing it outside of OSU-maintained systems, that information is classified as Unrestricted; there are no restrictions from storing it in any third-party service. We would encourage you to use caution when selecting a third-party service provider, and to avoid those without an established reputation for good, secure service.
    • If the information does include any of the data elements listed in Appendix A, please contact the Office of Information Security to see if a review of the service is required. In most cases, the completion of a Security Questionnaire by the vendor will be required as part of this review.

Note that data elements listed as Protected in Appendix A have the highest restrictions. Third Party Services should be avoided for these data elements if at all possible. Please contact the Office of Information Security for assistance.

OSU Phishing Derby

OSU's 2nd annual phishing derby has ended. But you can still help us catch phish.

Even though our Phishing Derby is over, we still want you to catch phish! 

When you send us phishing attepts that came to your email, you help us shut down the scammers who sent them. So, when a phishing attempt lands in your inbox, forward it to us (directions at /accounts-support/ois/2014-osu-phishing-derby/webform/submit-your-phish). 

Not quite sure how to spot a phishing attempt or how to distinguish it from spam email? Keep reading for more information.

fish symbolSo what is phishing?

It's an attempt to get you to give up sensitive information. 

A phishing email looks like it comes from a trustworthy organization. It tries to get you to submit information like your username, password and credit card details.

It used to be easy to spot a phishing email. You could pretty much count on bad grammar, poor spelling and too-good-to-be-true offers.

Not so, anymore.

These days, lots of phishing attempts have gotten more sophisticated. Sure, you’ll still see some that fall into that old, easy to spot style. But more and more of them look professional. Because more and more phishing scammers are getting professional, spending real money to fool you, just as a professional fisher spends money on good bait.  [Read more about phishing at]

email on a fish hookCheck the Bait.

In this case, the bait is any email you receive. A simple phish will try to create anxiety, typically saying something like there is a problem with your account and asking you to reply to the email and provide your username and password so they can resolve the problem. Those are easy to spot. Trickier phishes include a link (often disguised) that will take you to a webpage where you will be asked to complete a form. The trickiest ones are crafted to look just like an official notification from OSU. They use our logo, often capture language used in previous official emails, and are "signed" by real departments or people.

You may also see phishes that pretend to be from a bank or other online business.

Remember, if an email makes you feel that you need to take action immediately, be suspicious. Also know that IT support people will never ask you for your password; instead, they'll change your password to a temporary one that you both know to fix any account issues that require it. These instances are rare and will never be resolved over email.

If an email makes you suspicious, but you're not sure it's phishing, call the sender and ask if it's legitimate. Be sure to use a number you already have or one you can look up, not the one provided in the email.

Recent Developments: Did you know that phishing isn't limited to just email? You may receive a phone call using the same anxiety creating techniques. Don't give any personal information, such as social security number, credit card or bank account numbers, health insurance information, or passwords over the phone.

Examples of strong wording include:

  • NOW!

 Here are examples of phishing emails that we have received.

cursor hovering over a linkHover over the spot

In this case, the spot is a link in the email. When you place your cursor over that link and hover without clicking, the actual link will be shown, usually at the bottom of the window. In a phish you'll find that this link really goes to a different site than is shown in the link text. Check that link carefully -- the bad guys will frequently include portions of the authentic address to try to fool those who know the hover trick. Make sure that you inspect the entire address: if the portion before the first / in the address (after the http://) doesn't end in, don't click!

You can also hover using a mobile device. Simply touch the link and hold it. A window will pop up asking what you will want to do -- at the top of that window will be the actual link.

Be especially wary of URL shortening services such as and, since hovering doesn't work on them.

Try it out! Hover over the spot.

email symbolHow's this different from Spam?

Spam email, another type of unsolicited email, is typically advertising. The sender of a spam message wants to get you to visit a website where they'll receive a small compenstation for every visit. Their goal is to get as many people to visit as possible, so they flood a network with thousands of email messages, hoping a few people will click on it.

You've seen lots of them: advertisments for pharmaceutical products, bargain hotels, special deals on travel -- if you can think of it, someone has sent a spam email about it.

Spam isn't just annoying though; often the websites linked in a spam email contain malicious software like viruses and adware. It is best to avoid them altogther.

Now that you know how to detect phishing emails, and how to distinguish it from spam email, are you ready to test your skills and "Catch a Phish?"


Winners of the Phishing Derby - Congratulations! 

Congratulations to the winners of our Phishing Derby!

Everyone who entered helped make OSU a safer place. We collected 1,425 entries - that's 1,425 phishing attempts that got caught by our Derby participants. You rock! From those entries, we randomly selected 8 winners.

Winners of the $50 gift certificate to the Beaver Store

  1. Harrod, H.
  2. Johnston, K.
  3. Larson, M.
  4. Michels, A.
  5. Rieth, M.
  6. Schlonga, C.
  7. Sumida, G.
  8. Valenzuela, L.


Phishing Examples

Here are some examples of phishing emails we've recevied recently:

If you click on the images below, they'll show an image of the website linked in the phishing email.

Example 1:

Example 2:

Example 3:

Fake OSU Exchange Mail Page

How to know this page is fake:

  • The URL is incorrect the domain should be
  • This has three boxes to fill in which the acutal page has a different number
  • The title is New Item, which is incorrect

How to know this page is fake:

  • The URL is incorrect the domain should be not
  • The title and picture of the webpage is wrong on the tab

How to know this page is fake:

  • The URL is incorrect the domain should be
  • The title and picture of the webpage is wrong on the tab
  • The site is asking for Username, Email, and Password instead of Username and Password
  • The site has a different college on the page Chabot College

Submit Your Phish

OSU's second annual phishing derby has ended, but you can still help us catch phish.

Rules and Submission Guidelines

fish symbolRules for Phishing Derby:

Our phishing derby is over this year, but you can still help shut down scammers by sending us phishing attempts that come to your email.

  1. To participate in the contest you must be a valid Oregon State University student or employee.
  2. Submission of phishing emails must come from an official OSU email address.
  3. Only one (1) prize will be awarded per individual.
  4. An entry into this contest is counted as one (1) unique phishing attempt submission. For a definition of a phishing email please refer to Any re-submission of the same phishing attempt by the same person will be disallowed and not counted as a submission for the contest.
  5. Submitting a spam email will not be counted as an entry into the phishing derby.

Our phishing derby is over, but we still want you to submit phishing attempts that come to your email.

email on a fish hookHow to prepare your phish email for submission

To submit your phish email you will have to export the message from your mail client; please use the directions provided below. 

Once you have created the attachment, please email it to If you have problems please contact the OSU Computer Helpdesk at 541.737.3474

Catch a Phish (Free Entry)

OSU's 2nd annual phishing derby has ended. But you can still help us catch phish.

Enter your email address and selection from the options at the bottom of the page to earn one free entry into the OSU's 2nd Annual Phishing Derby.

Because these are images of actual emails, hovering over the URL will not work. Please base your decision on the content of the email.

Remember these things about phishing and spam emails:

  • Spam is typically trying to get you to buy things
  • Phishing tries to get you to click on a link or enter your personal information to take action  

Option 1

Password Notice Phishing Email

Option 2

Email in another language

Option 3

Email from Saleryo

phishing option 1
phishing option 2
phishing option 3
This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
2 + 8 =
Solve this simple math problem and enter the result. E.g. for 1+3, enter 4.