Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania


Security News & Updates

  • Printer Security – Most multi– function printers today come equipped with a hard drives that can store images of thousands of documents. They also tend to come with minimal security features enabled. Find out what Penn is doing about this.
  • Fake Anti–Virus – What to do if you are presented with a dialog box to install Anti–Virus protection while browsing the web.
  • Phishing and Spear–Phishing Scams – What to do if you receive an e-mail requesting confidential information.

Printer Security

Not just a printer...

Though we don't often think printers do anything except spit out whatever we tell it to, a large percentage of multi-function printers come with hard drives– just like the one you would find in your desktop computer or laptop.

What does this mean?

The data you print, copy, scan or fax is stored on that hard drive, often unencrypted and unprotected.

What is being done about this?

Information Services at the School of Medicine is spear-heading an operation to secure all of the printers within the School of Medicine. These devices come with password and encryption capabilities that must be enabled to ensure the security of any information that is being stored on the device. All of this will be taken care of by the PMACS.

Do any special precautions need to be taken when disposing of these devices?

Yes. When a printer, scanner, copier, or fax machine is to be retired or disposed of it is imperative that the hard drive be dealt with securely – either securely wiped or securely destroyed – just as you would dispose of a computer or server with sensitive or confidential information on it.

Fake Anti–Virus

Computers infected with fake Anti–Virus applications are being seen with increasing regularity on campus. Machines are infected when users are presented with a pop-up that seems to indicate that the computer is infected with viruses, and they are asked to install an application to fix the problem. This scare tactic is common with this scenario, and can look like a legitimate application as seen in the screen shot below:

Fake Anti-Virus image

Once installed, these applications can be difficult to get rid of, often resulting in needing to re-image your computer.

What To Do

If you are presented with a fake Anti–Virus installation pop-up window, DO NOT CLICK ANYWHERE IN THE DIALOG BOX. Instead, force quit the browser by doing the following:

  • Press Ctrl–Alt–Del to bring up the Windows Security window
  • Click on Task Manager
  • Make sure that you are in the Applications Tab
  • Click on the browser you have open, and click End Task

This will quit your browser application and prevent the fake Anti–Virus application from installing on your computer.
Immediately reboot your computer, and perform a full scan with a fully updated Symantec Endpoint Protection (SEP). Anytime you suspect that your machine may have been compromised, it is a good idea to run a full scan.

If you have any problems launching or updating SEP, or running a system scan, contact your computer support person for assistance.

Phishing and Spear–Phishing Scams

Phishing refers to a common scam that begins with an e-mail message.
The e-mail will typically:

  • Appear to come from a major company or institution
  • Include official looking graphics and logos
  • Inform you of an "urgent problem"
  • Request that you "respond immediately"
  • Provide a link to a site where you must enter sensitive information

If you receive such a message DO NOT click on the link, DO NOT respond to the message.

Legitimate businesses and government agencies should never solicit or initiate account administration activities or ask you to provide confidential information via e-mail.

Spear-Phishing is a refined version of phishing in which the attack is targeted to a specific group or community of users - such as a university campus - in which, for example, an e-mail is sent to all '' addresses. These messages might contain headers like:

University Webmail Upgrade
Verify your Email Account
Verify and Update Your upenn University Email Account

As with typical phishing attempts, these messages will instruct you reply with your username, password, date of birth, etc, and that failure to do so will result in loss of account privileges. Again, if you receive such a message DO NOT reply.

**Please note that Penn does send out notices to users when an account has been scheduled for deletion by the account administrator.**

View examples of a legitimate account deltion message compared to a spear-phishing attempt.

Please visit the ISC Security site for more information on phishing schemes.

For more information, contact Bob DeSilets at or 215-746-5578.

Penn Medicine Academic Computing Services (PMACS) at the Perelman School of Medicine

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