More than 20 staff, faculty affected by ‘critical’ phishing security breach

security breach

As of Oct. 4, more than 20 Chapman staff and faculty have been targeted by a security breach involving phishing emails, according to a campus-wide email sent out Thursday afternoon. Photo courtesy of chapman.edu

More than 20 Chapman staff and faculty members have been affected by a “critical” security breach that resulted from a phishing attack, wrote Jamie Ceman, the vice president of strategic marketing and communications, in a campus

wide email sent out Thursday\

afternoon.

The breach was caused by several staff and faculty members opening a phishing email and accessing a web page using their Chapman logins, allowing the unidentified perpetrator to gain access to faculty and staffs’ university account and change three employees’ bank information, rerouting their paychecks in the process.

More than 20 Chapman staff and faculty members were affected by a “critical” security breach that resulted from a phishing attack, wrote Jamie Ceman, the vice president of strategic marketing and communications, in a campus-wide email sent out Oct. 4.

The breach was caused by several staff and faculty members opening a phishing email and accessing a web page using their Chapman logins, allowing the unidentified perpetrator to gain access to faculty and staff’s university accounts and change three employees’ bank information, rerouting their paychecks in the process.

The breach was discovered Oct. 3, Ceman told The Panther.

“We were able to contain it, they believe, right away. They’re digging into the impact of that,” Ceman said of Information Systems and Technology (IS&T) looking into the incident. “(The university) will certainly compensate (employees) for their paycheck.”

Ceman declined to give the names of the affected faculty and staff, and said no specific departments were targeted.

According to the Chapman website, at least two phishing emails that mentioned employee payroll circulated in the Chapman community in mid to late September.

Phishing is the act of posing as a legitimate company or entity in order to obtain sensitive information like usernames, passwords and sensitive financial information commit fraud against an account holder.

Universities nationwide have seen an increase in successful email-based phishing attacks, according the IS&T  website.

In March 2018, approximately 320 universities in 22 countries were targeted by hackers working on behalf of the Iranian government, the hackers stole research valued at around $3.4 billion, according to the U.S. Deputy Attorney General. More than 140 of the targeted universities were located in the U.S.

While the attack does not put student accounts at risk, according to the email, IS&T recommends that students change their passwords “immediately.”

“Because of the nature of the phishing attack, it was going after payroll,” Ceman said. “It wasn’t targeted at students, but (IS&T is) doing their due diligence to make sure that the student accounts are secure.”