On Tuesday, Feb. 4 at approximately 9:37 p.m., 247 Springfield College students received an email that they had been anxiously awaiting. With winter storm Nika scheduled to hit the Springfield, Mass. area in the early hours of the morning, students were expecting a cancellation of classes for Wednesday. That email eventually came Wednesday morning from Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students David Braverman from the firstname.lastname@example.org account, but a premature, hoax email frustrated both students and faculty alike.
“When I first saw the email, I was a little confused at why Facilities would send out the cancellation information and not Dean Braverman,” senior Sean Smith said. “I noticed it only went to a select group of students, mainly students in the Sport Management [major].”
The hoax email, titled, “Weather Cancellations,” stated that, “We have been keeping a close eye on the forecast and came to a judicial conclusion by the faculty of Springfield college to cancel classes on 2-5-2014.” In addition, it read, “Parking lots 2,4 & 15 will be plowing by 8:30 am.”
The email, which was laden with typos, was quickly revoked at 9:49 p.m. and again at 9:59 p.m. The individual used a pseudonym, “Jeff Monroe,”and a personal email account titled “email@example.com” to send the messages. After the initial email, the individual expressed, “Disregard that last email” and “Its all a hoax, Sorry for the inconvenience.”
The fake email was immediately responded to by Springfield College’s Information and Technology Services Department, who sent out an email shortly after to the affected students informing them of the false information. According to Springfield College Chief Information Officer Danny Davis, the department was able to get a quick jump on the issue thanks to a number of heads-up students that called the Department of Public Safety to confirm the email.
After countering the hoax email, Davis and his team launched an investigation, which ended shortly after because the offender, a Springfield College student, emailed the IT Department and confessed to the offense. Davis and his department still ran a systems check to make sure that it was indeed a poorly planned prank. The results showed that no malware was involved.
“We always want to make sure that our network integrity and security is not penetrated,” Davis said.
Davis confirmed that the Springfield College student’s name who was listed at the bottom of the first email, Meridith Moreau, was a victim of the prank and in no way affiliated with the hoax. The email hoax produced various feelings for those involved.
“I feel that the hoax email was ultimately harmless, although frustrating at the time.,” Smith said.
“We don’t see this as being funny at all,” Davis said. “We take this very, very seriously and more often than not prosecute the offender to the fullest extent of policy and sometimes even law.”
Davis stated that if anyone had sustained personal injury or damage to their vehicle, that the offender could have been liable in a court of law.
Notifications approved by the college will only be sent via SC Alert, an official college email, listed on the home page of the school’s website or found by searching “Weather Emergency Notification.”