Proofpoint Digest implementation draws mixed reactions

Hai-Van Hoang / Drummer

By Bonnie Zhao 09/27/22 11:14 PM

This fall, Rice extended Proofpoint Digest, an email filtering system that quarantines suspected spam or bulk emails into a single daily digest, to the undergraduate community. which resulted in mixed responses among the student population.

Marc Cougle, associate vice president of IT infrastructure and operations, said Proofpoint’s email protection is a cloud-based solution that allows organizations like Rice to easily review all email. and apply protective security filters to incoming and outgoing emails.

“This service can identify and protect users against spam, malware, and other known and unknown threats,” Cougle wrote in an email to Thresher. “This includes imposter or look-alike emails or spoofed email domains, which aim to trick people into sending money, sensitive information or could lead to email/account compromise.”

Cougle said Proofpoint has been on campus since 2014 to protect private data and provide a way to send encrypted email to those on campus who need it; its anti-spam and anti-malware solutions were later added in 2017 for faculty and staff.

According to Cougle, Proofpoint is now being implemented for all Rice Mail users to add an extra layer of protection and provide a consistent experience regardless of which mail system their account resides on.

“While Google’s Gmail has basic spam and malware protections, they are not as robust or effective as Proofpoint’s, and the continued attacks on these people on Google, primarily students but also a growing number of faculty and staff, seemed to easily circumvent Google’s protections,” Cougle said.

Chief Information Security Officer Marc Scarborough said Proofpoint’s expansion into the undergraduate student community is partly due to an increase in fraudulent emails targeting students over the past year, resulting in monetary losses. Scarborough said it began extensive tracking of phishing email campaigns in February.

“Since then, we have tracked 53 major campaigns against our campus. Approximately 26,500 individual attempts were made, of which approximately 30 reported responding to scammers,” Scarborough said. “Fortunately, we were able to notify them before accounts were compromised or personal money was lost.”

Grant Parajuli, a senior at Baker College, said Proofpoint quarantined an email from a newspaper asking him to approve an article he co-authored.

“I think the email may have been delayed by about [three to four] days since I didn’t know where it was,” Parajuli said. “I couldn’t find it anywhere in my email since the only notification was in the summary. If I hadn’t found it by chance it would have been a much bigger headache.

Parajuli said Proofpoint brought him more inconvenience than convenience.

“Technically, the document will have to be reviewed for quite a long time, so it doesn’t really matter, but [it] shows that really important emails can be flagged by this service. It’s probably much worse for professors or grad students who do more of this stuff,” Parajuli said. “Most emails [Proofpoint] the flags are Rice’s athletics promotions.

Cougle said Rice’s email accounts can sometimes be quarantined by Proofpoint because Rice has three email environments.

“Two of them, Google and Microsoft, are operated in the cloud by different service providers. Although each system has a Rice email address, emails sent from one to the other may appear as external to Proofpoint, as they come from different internet-based email systems,” Cougle said. “In these cases, Proofpoint may rate an email as spam, malicious, or low priority email and filter it accordingly. .”

Lawrence Zhao, a fifth-year Ph.D. finance department student, said he has been receiving daily summaries from Proofpoint since 2020.

“I think overall it brought convenience to me,” Zhao said. “The main advantage is that the less important emails are consolidated into one email each day. So usually only the most important emails remain. That said, I don’t get a lot of spam to begin with, and there have been a few occasions where important emails have been blocked. »

According to Zhao, some of the important emails he has missed over the years include potential students inquiring about his doctorate. program. But its biggest complaint has been the format of Proofpoint’s daily summaries.

“It’s really not mobile-friendly – the font is really small and the alignment is often messed up, making it very hard to read,” Zhao said. “And I could be wrong, but I don’t think [the system] has changed at all over the years. So it’s always been like that.

Vince Wang, a Brown College senior, said he doesn’t like the way Proofpoint quarantines his emails because he prefers to filter them himself, and it also delays important information for him.

“[Advertisements], for example, are not academically important emails, but I still like to open some of them for information. I know that technically I can still receive them by clicking ‘allow sender’, but that’s just extra work,” Wang said. “Let’s say Venmo. I used to receive transaction emails immediately, but now I have to go into the app to confirm. »

Jordan Killinger, a Will Rice College senior, said she finds Proofpoint convenient.

“I really like it. It saves me having to click on an email just not to read it. And one less email can be helpful,” Killinger said.

Cougle said Proofpoint continues to improve its security offerings and that the IT office is continually evaluating these features or services to better protect the Rice community.

“In addition, OIT is moving towards a full cloud-based modernization of our messaging environment for everyone, which will enable a more secure and better user experience,” Cougle said.

Comments are closed.