February 22, 2019

Recent increase in spam at the UW

The following email was sent to all UW employees.

This message is being sent to all UW employees with approval of the Vice President for UW Information Technology and CIO.

Any amount of unwanted email is frustrating, and I know many people at the University have been seeing an increasing volume of spam over the past few weeks. I want to let you know what UW Information Technology (UW-IT) is doing to address this issue, as well as what steps you can take to help reduce the amount of unwanted email.

The University receives an average of three million incoming email messages per day and about half of those are flagged as likely to be spam. UW-IT uses multiple spam filters to combat this problem. However, spammers are continually inventing ways to circumvent the filters, and we are constantly adjusting our methods to keep the amount of spam that gets through to your inboxes as low as possible, without inadvertently blocking those messages that you do want to receive.

Recently, the University has been targeted by new spam attempts, and the UW community is experiencing an increased volume of spam as a result. In response, UW-IT, in collaboration with UW Medicine, is adding an additional layer of email scanning, as recommended by our security vendor. This solution requires customization that will take approximately one month to implement for an organization of our size, although we do expect to see incremental improvements even during this timeframe.

What you can do

To learn what you can do to reduce spam coming into your inbox and how to report it to UW-IT, please see the following resources on IT Connect. By reporting spam, you help us identify what has made it through the filters so we can stop such attempts in the future.

Where to get support

  • Your departmental IT support team. We encourage you to seek help from your departmental IT team first, as they know what will work best for your department’s IT environment.
  • UW-IT’s Technology Service Center. Email help@uw.edu or call 206-221-5000.

Thank you for your patience and support as we work to address this issue.