Cybersecurity Blog

What do you do with those invites from Alignable? – 02/14/20

Across  campus an email similar to the following has been popping up in inboxes.

According to their website, Alignable is

…the online network where small business owners across North America drive leads and prospects, generate referrals, land new business, build trusted relationships, and share great advice.

Their website is slick and professional. It has an impressive lists of testimonials. In addition logos of media outlets are prominently displayed. Everything on the site is designed to make the service look like it is widely used and trusted.

While there is no doubt that this a legitimate service, their marketing practices appear to be a bit troubling. Those reporting the Alignable invites to often remark that they do not know the person who sent the invite. Others complain that they did not sign up for the service but yet everyone in their contact list has been spammed.

These complaints are not just coming from our community. The Better Business Bureau has 19 similar complaints. While Trustpilot gives it a 51% excellence rating and a 40% bad rating with very little in between. When you see ratings on the extreme ends of the spectrum like that, that usually indicates that a bot is posting the good reviews.

Scouring the rest of the internet, influencers indicate that it is an amazing tool that you should try while other folks warn to stay away unless you want to spam your contacts.  It is difficult to know what the real story is.

What I can tell you is unhappy users have experienced the following:

  • They have been signed up for the service when they click the cancel button on the would-you-like-to-join dialog box.
  • They have had their entire contact list spammed with invites without their permission.
  • They have had invites sent out on their behalf without ever joining the service.

It is not possible to say whether these actions are deliberate or Alignable has a glitch in its service. Either way I suggest that before you accept one of their invitations,  you treat the email like any other coming into your inbox and contact the person who sent it to you to make sure it is legitimate. While you are at it, you should ask them about their experiences with the platform.  If they give you green lights, then you are good to go. If not, delete the email.

What have your experiences been with Alignable? I would love to hear about them. Please post your comments below.



Our president isn’t announcing a new Responsible Use of Technology policy – 02/16/20


The attackers are at it again, this time they have tried to hide behind threats of disciplinary action.  Check out the latest phishing email to hit the campus:

This nasty thing mostly landed in spam folders. However, there are some of you that would have found this in your inbox. The premise is plausible and the pdf attachment looks harmless. If you were to open this email on your phone, the odds are very good that you would assume the email is legitimate. However if you open the attachment a nasty surprise awaits. This is a gentle reminder to double check the sender’s email address before you make a decision to act on an email.


Fake UPS email showing up in campus inboxes – 02/13/20


Another day, another fake UPS email. Take a look at this sad excuse of a phishing email.

I really do expect more from an attacker.  At least paste an out of focus logo into the email. If you want to steal my money, you should put in a bit more effort than this.


Email from The Spamhaus Project is fake – 01/31/20


The latest phishing email to arrive in MRU inboxes is this beauty that looks like it comes from The Spamhaus Project, an international organization that creates block lists of spammy and phishy email senders.



This email is a bit clever as they use a link to the real Spamhaus Project website to try and convince you the email is legitimate while threatening to block your email address. Unfortunately the painfully bad grammar, zip file attachment and wrong email address clearly mark it as a phishing attempt.

You have to give them credit for trying though, if you are in a hurry and don’t take the time to read the email carefully, the odds are pretty good you will panic and click. Don’t get caught, slow down and stop and think before you click.



Mount Royal University’s email policy clarified – 01/31/20


Updated: 02/07/20


In the When to use your email  address article, I outlined some general guidelines on how to determine which email address you should use for creating accounts and accessing online services.  This article generated a slew of questions related to availability of email accounts once someone leaves the University.  I thought it would be helpful to clarify who gets to keep their accounts, under which circumstances and why.

Our email policy states

The University provides an email account to all faculty, staff and students to be used in the course of their duties or activities at the University. The University may also provide an email account for alumni, retirees, and professor emeriti, as well as other at the discretion of the University.

All email accounts and associated addresses are the property of the University.

So what does this actually mean and how is this policy implemented? Well that depends on who you are and under what circumstances you leave the University.

  • If you are a staff member your access to your email will be terminated regardless of why you leave. This is to ensure business continuity.
  • If you are a faculty member the same rule applies unless you are leaving due to retirement. Retired faculty members get to keep their emails as long as they adhere to the email policy. This is part of their collective agreement.
  • Students retain permanent access to their email account.

Regardless of who you are and why you left, the University owns the email account and at any time they can revoke your access. The most common reason is not following the email policy. However it is at the discretion of the University to revoke it for any reason that they deem credible. Some of those reasons may be a change in policy or a change in email provider.

Therefore you should never consider your email account to be yours for life. It is yours until the University decides it is not.  That is why I suggested all MRU account holders follow the guidelines outlined in  the When to use your email  address article. The guidelines ensures that you maintain access to your accounts even if your access to your email address is lost.

Another thing to consider is FOIP requests. According to the email policy, any email sent with your account is subject to a FOIP request regardless of whether the content of the email is personal in nature or not. If you don’t want your personal emails to show up in a FOIP request, don’t use your account to send them.

If you have any questions about email access or the email policy please contact the Service Desk, they will be happy to help.


Beware of tutors posing as MRU professors – 01/28/20



One of our students gets the cybersecurity hero of the month award.  This very sharp and vigilant student posted a Kijiji ad looking for a tutor. He received a response from a gentleman claiming he was a professor at Mount Royal University. Rather than take the man at his word, the student wisely made inquires first with his department chair and then with others. No one could vouch for his employment past or present.

Bravo to this smart young man for checking the perspective tutor’s credentials! Because he took the time to check for references and confirm that the person is who they said they were, he avoided paying a premium price for a not so premium tutor.

Well done!


When to use your email address – 01/27/20



In today’s modern world, the lines between our personal lives and our work or school lives often becomes blurred. We are shopping on Amazon on our lunch hour and answering University emails from our laptop at home.  This often makes it difficult to determine when you should use your email to sign up for an account or service and when you should use your personal email.

A good guideline is to use your personal email address for anything that you want to use or have access to even if you aren’t working or attending Mount Royal University. For those services and accounts that you will only access WHILE working or attending the University, use your email address.

When sending university related emails, use your account. It reduces the chances your email will be mistaken for a phishing attempt and reported to

Following these guidelines reduces our network’s exposure and vulnerability. It also makes it easier for you to maintain access to services and accounts when you retire, graduate or work for another organization.  In addition, it means you will get fewer notifications from us that your email was part of a data breach. Less work for us, less hassle for you…everybody wins!


How cybersecurity experts become victims – 11/26/19



Every month I send out a nice little phishing training email to give our wonderful users across campus some practice identifying them. Those people that click and are repeat clickers, work in IT or are a Cybersecurity Champion all tell me the same thing. They were trying to determine whether to click or not while they were in a hurry or while they were on their phones.

The dangers of doing this were highlighted in the Our Community article, I knew I’d been scammed which details how one of Mount Royal’s community members became a victim of a gift card scam. Now KnowBe4 has written its own article describing how one of their cybersecurity professionals clicked in three phishing training emails in two months.  In both cases the individuals were well educated in how to identify a phishing email but were in a hurry and using their phones. The message that keeps getting repeated is to SLOW down.

Before you decide what to do with an email, STOP. If you are on your phone, deal with it later at your workstation. If you are in the midst of doing 100 things, deal with it when you have time to evaluate it properly.

Taking theses simple steps will help keep you from becoming a victim.


Students can now take the survey – 11/14/19


Last week we launched the Cybersecurity Survey. Unfortunately the survey contained an error that kept students from completing it. The survey is now fixed.

If you had tried to complete the survey but were unable to, please give it another try. Your entry into the $50 gift certificate to the Table is waiting.

Thank you for your patience. We apologize for the inconvenience.

Take the Cybersecurity Survey and win a $50 gift certificate to the Table – 11/06/19



It’s that time of year again when we look back at how we have done for the last 12 months and determine how we can improve. It is cybersecurity survey time!!! Yes, you  read correctly the Cybersecurity Survey is ready for your input.  Whoo hoo, I can just feel your excitement!

The good news is for completing the survey, you earn a contest entry code for the Cybersecurity Challenge. The better news is we have a sponsor for this year’s survey. I know there will be those of you who were looking forward to winning a grab bag of swag. However you sick folks are going to have to settle for a gift certificate from the Table.  That’s right, the terrific folks at NetApp are donating a $50.00 gift certificate. !

To get your free food, you only need to take 5 to 10 min to complete the survey. Your feedback helps shape the cybersecurity awareness program for the next year.  Remember we want to know what you ARE doing not what you should be doing. The survey is completely anonymous, so you are free to be 100% honest. The contest draw is independent of the survey so you can give us your anonymous feedback and still enter. You have until November 30, 2019 to complete the survey, we will do the draw that day. We look forward to hearing from you!

Complete the survey

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