IT increases email security and eCommon accessibility

Information Technology department installed a new email security service, Mimecast, to improve the protection and proficiency of Emerson’s databases.

The anti-spam, anti-phishing email service that filters out potentially malicious messages or links went into effect April 3, said Director of IT Infrastructure Frankie Frain.

In January, two faculty members were victims of phishing, or fraudulent email attacks. Three months later, Emerson IT bought and installed Mimecast to improve the filtering, detection, and monitoring of malicious messages, Frain said.

When a student receives an email Mimecast identifies as spam, they receive a separate email from Postmaster saying the message is on-hold. Students can then choose to release the email, block the sender, or permit the emails from the specific address.

“I haven’t been loving [Mimecast] because it’s notifying me about all my work emails as spam,” Samara Debruyn, a sophomore and house usher for ArtsEmerson, said.

IT said they didn’t anticipate the problems the new software is causing for students.

“We are working to remedy those hiccups in the system,” Frain said.

The service also allows students to encrypt, or code, messages when sending sensitive content to outside parties. To encrypt, students must add ‘[encrypt]’, ‘[sensitive]’, or ‘[protect]’ in the subject of the email.  A guide available on Emerson’s website offers a more detailed explanation of the process.

IT also decided to move the eCommon system to Emerson’s main website on April 8.

The old eCommon in our opinion had too many roles and was often confusing,” Frain said. “We decided to consolidate the [resources on eCommon] to the main Emerson website.”

Frain said the old eCommon confused people, so consolidating it with the Emerson website will make it easier for users to find resources. Instead of links categorized under tabs, the new eCommon requires users to log in via Duo with a username and password through Duo, a service that secures campus resources like Gmail and Canvas.

Logging in via Duo logs students and faculty into software like Panopto, the college’s video service,; Banner, an information management system;, and Emerson Gmail.

“Duo’s making it harder to access resources I otherwise had no problem accessing prior to the changes made. It’s really frustrating,” Debruyn said.  

The new eCommon also offers a two-factor authentication system for employees when accessing confidential data such as budget queries, timesheets, direct deposits, and other personal information. Two-factor authentication makes users provide a username and password and requires them to confirm the login with a security question or an external device.

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