Daniel Chi / Asst. photo editor
Upgrades to an Ohio State computer system caused many people to receive unintended emails from the Fisher College of Business Thursday.
“There was an upgrade to the system that runs the Fisher Alumni website, and these emails were sent out inadvertently to very large number of OSU contacts, including faculty, staff and students who do not have a connection to the Fisher College of Business,” said Dinah Hoover of the Office of the Chief Information Officer IT Service Desk in an email to The Lantern.
“The email was sent to Ohio State alumni, friends and others associated with the university due to a technical issue with a scheduled system upgrade,” said Eileen Bertolini, associate vice president of OSU Advancement IT in a Friday email to those who received the initial Fisher emails. “Rest assured, this was an internal university error and know that our systems are secure and no security breach has occurred.”
No estimate of the number of emails sent was available Sunday.
The first email sent from Fisher Alumni Relations, with a subject line of “Fisher Alumni Directory Confirmation,” told recipients they had gained access to the Fisher Alumni Directory. A second email about 20 minutes later, with the subject “Fisher Alumni Profile Update Confirmation,” told recipients updates had been made to their profile in the alumni directory.
OSU spokeswoman Gayle Saunders said some people were supposed to get the email.
“The system sends an automatic email response to those Fisher College of Business users who are newly signed users and it also sends an automatic message to Fisher College to those email users who update their profiles,” Saunders told The Lantern in an email.
People received the email mistakenly because of “a technical issue in the system,” Saunders said. “The system was upgraded and the coding criteria that typically filters the system simply did not transfer the coding, resulting in others receiving emails.”
Amanda Merryweather, a first-year in human nutrition, thought the email was a mistake and deleted it.
“It made me think for a couple of minutes that it might be spam, or someone hacking into the computer system,” she said.
However, the university said the concerns about the origin of the message are ungrounded.
“The message is not dangerous, and not a phishing scam – however, it was sent in error, and can be deleted,” Hoover said.
Even though the message was safe, it confused many.
“I’m an alumni from Case Western, so I was a little confused. I thought it might be spam, but my OSU email account doesn’t get spam, so I kept it there (in my inbox),” said Andrew Lee, a graduate student in atmospheric sciences. “I wasn’t sure what to make of it.”
Andrew Bacik, a fourth-year in psychology, wasn’t bothered at all.
“I was just confused, and then I deleted it, and then I went on with my life,” he said. “I’m not in this, so someone probably screwed up somewhere.”
For Victorian Village resident Ben Hanning, that seems to be the case. The Fisher emails came to an email address Hanning said he only gave to Pelotonia, the bicycling fundraiser for the Comprehensive Cancer Center – Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute.
“The directory email was sent to a variation of my email address that was used only to make a donation to Pelotonia last year,” Hanning wrote in an email to The Lantern. “I have no affiliation to OSU, other than applying to a couple positions on their employment page.”
A spokesman for Pelotonia said in an email that because Pelotonia is part of the Ohio State University Foundation, which is connected to OSU, users signing up for Pelotonia were providing their email addresses and other information to the university.
“I was worried someone was signing my email account up for stuff, or trying to use my email to log into something,” said Evan Clinton, a Dublin, Ohio, resident who rode in Pelotonia in 2010 and volunteered at the James Cancer Center. “I trust OSU to not do anything crazy with my email address, random computer mistakes aside.”