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Email Security

Learn how IT Services keeps your UC San Diego email secure.


UC San Diego relies on a layered approach to email security. No single process or technology is sufficient to secure the University’s environment, so layers of technology and user education are employed. A threat that manages to circumvent one layer is likely to be caught be another.

Your workstation and email client have a local layer of protection that you and your department have direct control over.  The following layers are used by IT Services to protect your email from threats before they get to your workstation.

Layers of email security

Reputation filtering by IP address

We use technology from Cisco to measure the reputation of a sender’s IP address in near real-time to block malicious emails at the campus border. Learn more about reputation filtering from Cisco.

Reputation filtering by embedded link

All embedded links within an email are scanned for malicious content and reputation. Malicious links are removed and blocked.

Spam quarantine and tagging

We give each email a spam-likeliness score based on key words/ phrases, email signatures, sender IP and embedded links. This score is added to the email headers of your incoming messages. See options for filtering and quarantining these messages.

The campus Exchange and Google environments add a second layer of spam scanning. These technologies all employ different methods and metrics to determine spam, so the combined layers are quite effective in removing unwanted email from your mailbox.

Anti-virus and malware scanning

Anti-virus and malware scanning evaluates email for malicious content that we can then remove before it reaches your mailbox. We scan at the campus border and on local mail systems to provide layered protection, including direct mailbox to mailbox protection.

Outbound email

Like your inbound email, outbound email is also scanned for malicious content. This protects other organizations from malware and spam that initiates from compromised UCSD accounts and protects UC San Diego’s reputation with the rest of the email community.

Outbreak filtering

This service identifies potential outbreaks of malware and temporarily quarantines messages until further verification can occur. Most of the time, this quarantine of potential threats lasts a few minutes.

Your role in email security

Email delays

All of these processes do add some delay to email processing. This can especially be true if you are sending attachments that require complex analysis. You should expect that email between campus email addresses should never take more than 15 minutes. If you are encountering more significant delays, we encourage you check the ITS Status Page for information on current service interruptions, or contact the ITS Service Desk.

Blocked/ quarantined email

There are times when one of the layers of email protection may quarantine or block legitimate email. Please work with your departmental IT support folks to help you diagnose the problem. The ITS Service Desk can also work with you on troubleshooting and resolving these false positive events.

Phishing concerns

Spear phishing used targeted email messages to steal your online credentials. It is important that you stay vigilant to this threat. Learn more about phishing.