Faculty Accounts Spammed

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By Sharon Ho

Ryerson is developing a new e-mail filtering system as part of its constant fight against spam.

Spam, junk mail delivered to email accounts, is a source of irritation at Ryerson.

“At some point there is always someone complaining to me about spam,” said Brian Lesser, assistant director of teaching and technology support at Ryerson’s Computing and Communications Services.

CCS can’t say how many spam e-mails filter into Ryerson on a day-to-day basis but it blocks more than 45,000 e-mails per day.

But Bill Glassman, a psychology professor at Ryerson estimates he still gets 30 to 40 spam messages daily.

He deals with it by deleting e-mail from unknown senders or that contain subject lines that do not make sense. But he worries that he may be deleting legitimate e-mail.

Ryerson subscribes to a database that keeps track of servers known to send spam and blocks e-mails. Lesser says that spammers can still get their e-mail into the system.

Ryerson has been investigating the use of content filtering for six months, but is taking its time to develop a system that will counter the problem.

Glassman thinks spam is an annoyance, a distraction, and a waste of time. “I think spam raises concerns about the annoyance level and raises issues of what’s legitimate. Inappropriate messages may be directed at people who find them unwelcome.” He thinks people may receive spam to the extent that they feel helpless to do anything about it. This feeling is known as learned helplessness.

Ryerson students may not get to experience this feeling of helplessness from spam, as it does not seem to be an issue for them. Krishnan Nadorasa, an IT management student has never received spam. One adviser at the computer lab help desk in Kerr Hall, who refused to identify himself, has had a Ryerson e-mail account for four years and has never received spam. One explanation for this difference may be that unlike faculty, students may not advertise their email addresse which Lesser says helps avoid spam.

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