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Information Technology Security


In IT Security, the word threat means anyone or anything that poses a danger to computing resources, or to computer users, or to their important data.

University policy forbids anyone to ask you for your password, and forbids you to share your password with anyone. When an account is detected sending spam, the University does not attempt any contact via that account, but blocks it immediately, as it is presumed to be under control of a spammer.

Current Threats

  • Alert - Callers Falsely Representing Major Computer Manufacturers

    The University Information Security Office (UISO) has received reports of telephone-based social engineers targeting faculty and staff. Employees have received calls from individuals claiming to be representing Dell in an attempt to solicit financial information such as credit card numbers. Should you receive a similar call from anyone soliciting information, the UISO recommends users immediately terminate the call and record the phone number. Please provide a detailed report of the attempt, including phone number, to security@sc.edu. It may also be advisable to notify the company the caller claimed affiliation with.

  • Alert - Beware of Cryptolocker

Cryptolocker is malware that prevents access to data on local and network drives, including USB drives, by means of file-level encryption. Once the Cryptolocker malware has encrypted files, it will claim to decrypt the files upon payment.

The malware is known to be capable of affecting computers that are running Microsoft Windows 8, 7, Vista and XP.

Preventative Measures:

  • Make sure that your antivirus software and definitions are up-to-date.
  • DO NOT click links or open attachments within emails unless you know the sender and are expecting an attachment.
  • Keep regular backups of your important data.

Any user within the University that feels that they are being affected by the Cryptolocker malware should immediately stop using their machine and contact their local IT Administrator or the Service Desk at servicedesk@sc.edu.

  • Phishing: In response to the increase in phishing attacks, USC has begun to implement several measures intended to reduce the number of e-mail accounts compromised by phishing. For more information, see the USC Phishing Response web page.

Common Threats

  • Bot: A type of malicious software program that permits a computer criminal to have remote control of a computer (a "back door"). Once in control of the robot computer, the criminal can use it for email spam distribution, Internet attacks, or to steal information from the computer.
  • Malware: Any type of program that is created with the intent to cause damage, steal data, or abuse computer system resources.
  • Phishing: Any email or communication intended to trick the recipient into disclosing secret or sensitive information, such as passwords, Social Security numbers, user names, or bank account numbers. Frequently, the message pretends to be from a known institution, such as a bank or company IT department. These communications will often ask the recipient to reply to the email with their personal information. If the user replies, the criminal can then use their information for identity theft: accessing computer networks, bank accounts, and other personal information.

    Click here for more information about phishing.

    Phishing Examples:
  • phishingex

  • Social Engineering: Any psychological technique used by computer criminals to manipulate people into doing something they would not ordinarily do.
  • Spear-Phishing: A phishing attempt targeted to a small group of people
  • Trojan Horse: A type of malware that spreads to computers by posing as a desirable program or data file. End users may download the program thinking it will do a particular task. But once loaded, the Trojan Horse will perform malicious activities on the computer, such as stealing user information. trojanex

  • Virus: Commonly used to mean "any bad software." Technically, a virus only refers to atype of malware that spreads by attaching itself to other programs. Viruses can replicate themselves on your system, pass themselves on to other computers, and cause operational slow-downs and even damage to the computer operating system.
  • Worm: A type of malware that spreads by copying itself onto other computers, disks, or memory cards.
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