University of Moncton blocking some external emails in fight against cyberattack

The University of Moncton is now blocking some emails from external organizations as part of its ongoing efforts to intercept a string of malicious emails targeting a female student, officials confirmed Tuesday.

Ten emails containing sexually explicit images have been sent to students and staff since Feb. 25, including the most recent one, sent on March 4.

Codiac RCMP are investigating the email campaign that authorities have described as cyberterrorism.

"Our IT department teams are working tirelessly to continuously monitor our systems in order to intercept malicious emails," university spokesperson Nathalie Haché said in a statement.

"Significant progress has been made over the past few days without compromising the university's email system."

The decision to block some external organizations comes amid calls for the university to shut down its email system until the person responsible for the emails is found.

University president and vice-chancellor Raymond Théberge had previously dismissed the idea, saying shutting down the email system would be sending the message that the attacker is winning.

"As a university, as a place of freedom of expression, we have to make sure we can keep communicating," he had said.

But Roxann Guerrette, president of the student union FEECUM, has argued the attacker was already winning with private information about a student being distributed.

In the statement issued by the university on Tuesday, Haché said: "We can confirm that some emails from external organizations are being blocked."

Haché declined to elaborate on the strategies being used to intercept emails, citing public safety reasons, but did say "several organizations have had difficulty reaching [the university's] users."

"We invite members of organizations, who receive a non-delivery notice to contact their IT department so that appropriate actions can be taken on their end to resolve the situation."

University officials believe the malicious emails originate from a server outside of the country.

The person behind the attack claimed in one of the emails that he was living in Morocco and threatened police by saying, "So just catch me if you can."

The University of Moncton doesn't have resources in place for victims of sexual violence, but a committee is working on putting together a policy for the fall semester.