U of M says 9th malicious email sent Thursday night

The University of Moncton says a ninth malicious email was sent to the campus community Thursday night, reaching almost 2,000 students and staff. 

Raymond Théberge, president and vice–chancellor of the university, is calling the malicious email campaign a form of cyber terrorism. 

"Our objective is to ensure safety on our campuses and to stop this campaign of degrading and unwanted emails," he said.

The university administration held a news conference Friday morning to discuss the malicious email campaign, which started last weekend with a female student as its target. The images sent out were sexual in nature. 

The university said an investigation was able to determine that this is a matter of identity theft. The institution's data and the personal information of the university's students and staff are secure.

The university said progress has been made in its efforts to counteract the tactics of the individual behind malicious emails.

"Teams in our IT department have been working non-stop keeping watch in order to intercept the messages coming from this individual," Théberge said. "The messages are difficult to block because the perpetrator uses several identities."

Earlier this week, police said they had identified a possible suspect in what appeared to be a case of "revenge porn" but they had not located him.

At the news conference, the university spoke of two servers, one traced back to an IP address in Europe.

The campaign provoked students to call on the University of Moncton to shut down the campus email system. 

But Théberge said the university, which has an enrolment of 3,959 students at the Moncton campus, will stand firm in its refusal to shut down the system.

"If we were to freeze all emails it will mean the perpetrator will have succeeded in stopping us from operating," he said. "This is a type of cyber terrorism and it's never a good thing to give into these kinds of attacks." 

Premier Brian Gallant said Friday morning, the province is doing everything it can to help the university and RCMP.

He said Donald Arseneault, the minister of post-secondary education, training and labour, has been in talks with the university, offering support as a government with cyber security or whatever else is needed.

"We'll do everything we can to support and certainly anything that we can [do to] help in terms of cyber security, we will do," he said. 

'It happens all over the world'

André Lee, general director of technologies at the university, said the malicious emails were unfortunate  for the victim but such activity didn't surprise the IT department.

"It happens all over the world, it happens every week in universities in North America in a different form," said Lee.


For public safety reasons, the strategies used by the department for intercepting the messages will not be shared. 

"This is something that all institutions are vulnerable to, not only education institutions, it's a public security matter."

The university is also setting up a 24-hour, toll-free psychological help line this afternoon for students. 

The university said this is being established to support members of the university community on all three campuses, Edmundston, Moncton and Shippagan.

The service is in addition to the one announced earlier this week for members of the university community.