3. Unwanted email (viruses, spam, junk-email)

We all receive unwanted email, sometimes of an offensive nature. It is very hard to totally avoid this, but it can usually be contained to a mere irritation. Most incoming mail is scanned in order to tag junk mail, and OUCS recommends applying a filter to screen you from the worst excesses.

OUCS will take action against any Oxford user who is identified as having originated or passed on junk or chain mail. Serious cases will be referred to the Proctors.

Junk, chain and hoax email
What is it and how can you avoid it? Some general information on our junk mail page. Make sure to activate your Nexus spam filter to reduce the amount of spam you receive.
Fake emails/phishing
All email users will almost certainly receive occasional fake emails (also know as "phishing") trying to persuade them to provide personal details, passwords, credit card numbers etc. by various means such as linking to a fraudulent web site. Read some tips about How to Recognise Fake Emails. Often Viewing the Full Email Headers can provide clues about the authenticity of a message and the headers are also required by OUCS if you ask us to investigate a message. OUCS particularly encourages users to report Phishing Scams asking for passwords to University systems in order to protect other users and the University as a whole.
Computer viruses are commonly spread by email. Your email is scanned centrally to detect viruses and junk mail. Messages containing viruses are deleted, and junk mail is tagged so that you can filter it out. Most email clients will allow you to set up filters, either to automatically delete unwanted messages, or put messages in appropriate folder (see information about your email program for details). OUCS maintain a set of detailed web pages about Viruses and how to deal with them.
Sometimes people may receive offensive mail that is directed to them personally. If a user is persistently harassed, or is threatened by email, then there are various measure that can be taken to shield them. If you are in this situation, then please contact OUCS Help Centre (telephone (2)73200), and we shall arrange for one of our staff to discuss this with you confidentially. The Proctors regard any form of harassment as a serious University offence, and will deal severely with cases originating from within the University.
Secure email
Email is not a very secure medium. You can protect your privacy by encoding the email message before it is sent (using a system such as Pretty Good Privacy, PGP), and you can make a secure connection to the mail server (using SSL). PGP and SSL are explained in pages about Secure email.

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