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Office of Information Technology

IT Security Incidents

OIT works cooperatively with Campus Police, General Counsel, the Office of Risk Management, and other identified offices (depending on incident) to coordinate the appropriate investigation and response for a given IT security incident. Each incident investigation requires consideration of relevant DC and/or Federal law, University Policy, privacy concerns, business continuity, and risk mitigation.


What is an IT security incident?

Some examples include:

  • Using University IT resources to gain unauthorized access into any non-University computer system 
  • Using University IT resources to harass or threaten someone 
  • Accessing your computer or your data without permission or authority 
  • Using a University system without authorization 
  • Compromising University data: unauthorized distribution or unauthorized change 
  • Unexpected disruption of University services


Frequently Asked Questions

What do I do if I suspect an IT security incident?

Read the specific scenarios addressed below for guidance, or contact the IT Help Desk at 202-885-2550,, or AskAmericanUHelp for assistance.


What should I do - my computer or laptop has been stolen? Or I have received a threatening e-mail?

Contact the American University Police and file a report.


I believe someone has accessed my computer or data without my permission! My computer has been compromised! What should I do?

Stop all activities on your computer and contact the IT Help Desk at 202-885-2550 or AskAmericanUHelp. It is important to tell the Help Desk analyst that you have an urgent issue, and that you suspect an IT security incident has occurred.


I suspect abuse or misuse of AU's information technology resources, what should I do?

Please report all abuse or misuse of technology resources as soon as is practical be sending an e-mail to All reports of abuse or misuse should contain a brief explanation of the suspected abuse or misuse.

When possible, please include the suspected AU IP address, and the date and time when the suspected abuse occurred. The more specific you can be the better chance we have of tracking down the suspect.


Someone is sending me threatening e-mails, who should I contact?

If you receive a threatening e-mail, contact the American University Police immediately and file a report.


What about SPAM or objectionable e-mail?

AU uses SPAM filters to try to catch inappropriate or objectionable e-mail. Spammers continue to find ways around these technical filters. If you find a message that slips through, you can report the undesired or SPAM e-mail. Please forward the e-mail, including full headers with your report to Please contact the IT Help Desk at 202-885-2550,, or AskAmericanUHelp, if you need assistance with viewing and forwarding the full headers.

If you are reporting what you believe is criminal activity, do not delete the e-mail from your computer until you have contacted Campus police and have been instructed to do so.