How universities spy on student (and staff) email

How universities spy on student (and staff) email

Summary: Exploring how email administrators can spy on the inboxes of their organisation's employees or university's staff and students.

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  • Once the search is done and the email comes through (or not, you can access it through the status page still), you can open up the results directly from your own inbox. In this scenario, only 29 mailboxes were searched, the total number of 'students' in this hypothetical university.

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    Colour key for viewers: Red border is the administrator's email view. Green border is the student user's email view. Blue border is the administrator's console.
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    For more background on this screenshot gallery, head over to the iGeneration blog which explains all.

  • By clicking on the Results string, a new window will open to display the Discovery Search Mailbox. Within this, you have the standard inbox which should be empty as it is a new and unused account, strictly for searches only. 

    However, you will see the search folder labelled allEmailBoxesAcrossOrganisation which was created earlier; a search which spanned across all 29 mailboxes in the university. This displays everyone's username or full forename and surname, and the time and date of when the search was carried out. These sub-folders include each individual mailbox and user created folders that the user has made.

    In this screenshot, the names are concealed.

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    Colour key for viewers: Red border is the administrator's email view. Green border is the student user's email view. Blue border is the administrator's console.
    ---

    For more background on this screenshot gallery, head over to the iGeneration blog which explains all.

  • Here you can see the inbox of Test.Account.1 which has been accessed, along with the emails of that user including Bing news alerts, Twitter messages and school notices - including the one sent just before the search had been carried out. 

    This is how administrator's can read your emails - in Live@edu, at least. The same applies to Google Apps and other cloud hosted and most in-house products for email communications.

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    Colour key for viewers: Red border is the administrator's email view. Green border is the student user's email view. Blue border is the administrator's console.
    ---

    For more background on this screenshot gallery, head over to the iGeneration blog which explains all.

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  • Why use the word Spy?

    You know that most times this is done for legitimate reasons. I manage a Live@Edu system for students and Exchange in house for staff and I don't know about other Admins but I do not have the time to just read other people's email for the sake of reading it so calling it Spying makes it sound like something illegal or sneaky is going on and I am sure sometimes there is, but I would suspect (or at least hope) that is rare.

    Either that or I have too high of a moral standard to just be sneaky like that.
    bobiroc
    • RE: How universities spy on student (and staff) email

      @bobiroc For one thing I'm sure of - I'm glad to have readers like you with a strong moral standard :)
      zwhittaker
      • Don't mind bobrockhead

        Not only does he read other people's mail but he's also is a peeping tom. Just make sure you keep him away from open windoze.

        lol.... :D
        search & destroy
  • RE: How universities spy on student (and staff) email

    Goes back to the ole "My equipment, my Rules" paradigm. UNLESS it is something the user was never advised could happen. And that was never mentioned in the article.
    twayner
  • RE: How universities spy on student (and staff) email

    Hell, the government scans all the stuff that travels outside the local domain anyway.
    Beyond that, admins can track just about everywhere a user goes and everything a user downloads en masse. Been that way for a decade at least. Nothing is secret when it comes to web traffic.
    bobwinners
  • RE: How universities spy on student (and staff) email

    Your headline implies that university mail admins regularly spy on user accounts. Anyone with a lick of sense knows that the mail admins already have the ability to look into their account (so you're relying on the ethics of the admin), and anyone who's concerned about mail privacy already knows there's NO absolute privacy guarantee when you're using someone else's mail server.
    rpolunsky@...
    • RE: How universities spy on student (and staff) email

      @rpolunsky@... If they can, they do.
      zwhittaker
  • RE: How universities spy on student (and staff) email

    Not every university spies on students... It isn't news that universities and companies have the ability to do so either.
    snoop0x7b
  • Another Option

    Surveilstar
    peteself
  • A good e-mail system provides an audit the admin capability.

    One that the admins can't change. More overhead that way, but the manager/supervisor has the ability to check on them and keep them honest.
    Dr_Zinj