Forwarded UO emails may be lost after Feb. 1 changes

Without quick action, people at the University of Oregon who forward their email to external accounts may soon find new messages missing.

On Thursday, Feb. 1, Gmail will introduce stronger measures to prevent spam and improve email security. Yahoo has announced similar plans for February.

For people who forward all their UO email to Yahoo or Gmail accounts, some or all of those messages may soon be treated as spoofed — that is, as if the sender details are forged. Cyberattackers often use spoofing to make malicious messages look as if they’re coming from a trusted sender or domain.

The messages may land in a spam folder or simply be deleted, depending on how the email providers handle it.

To prevent loss of any UO emails, Information Services strongly recommends that affected students, faculty and staff stop forwarding their email to third-party email services. Instructions for disabling a UOmail forward are available in the UO Service Portal.

"We don't want anyone to miss out on important emails from instructors, colleagues, collaborators or federal agencies," said Jeff Jones, director of digital work experience in Information Services. "We're raising this alarm as a courtesy to help ensure the UO community isn't caught off guard by these changes."

People who forward their UO email to outside accounts often seek the convenience of having email from multiple accounts in one place. However, email applications for mobile devices — including the Outlook app and the native mail apps for iOS and Android — provide a way to access multiple accounts in one application without forwarding. Comparable email programs are also available for laptops and desktop computers.

Information Services has long discouraged the use of email forwarding except by alumni with lifetime email forwards. People who forward their UO email to outside accounts do so "at their own risk," as stated in the UO policy on the use of email for official and mass communications.

"We can't guarantee the delivery of email to third-party email providers because we don't control their end of things," Jones said. "These upcoming changes are a great example of that."

In addition, UO employees are responsible for complying with laws such as the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974, the federal law protecting student records. Any FERPA-protected information should stay within official UO email services.

Unfortunately, the changes by Gmail and Yahoo may affect alumni with email forwards in the same way. At this time, Information Services staff don’t have any recommendations for ensuring the continued flow of forwarded email since the changes are occurring outside UO systems.

Anyone who needs help disabling an email forward or finding alternative ways to access their UO email can submit a ticket at email and calendar help or contact the Technology Service Desk. Employees can also contact the IT staff who support their unit.

—By Nancy Novitski, University Communications