This fall has seen a large increase in unsolicited commercial email (UCE), better known as spam, being sent to members of the University of Waterloo community.
We're used to seeing spam for products like pharmaceuticals sent by mysterious and secretive organizations overseas. A notable difference with the current spam surges is that many of the messages are coming from real companies with offices in Canada. They are offering things like student housing or textbooks, and appear to be legitimate enterprises.
However, even if these are legitimate Canadian companies, they are not legally entitled to send commercial email to whomever they please. Under Canada's anti-spam legislation (CASL), they are required to obtain consent beforehand from the recipient. When the company is located in Canada, there is a much better chance of getting the government to deal with them than with suspicious foreign companies.
If you receive unsolicited commercial email from a Canadian firm, you should forward the offending email to the Government of Canada's Spam Reporting Centre at firstname.lastname@example.org or submit it using their web form, which is reachable from http://fightspam.gc.ca/eic/site/030.nsf/frm-eng/MMCN-9EZV6S
Please encourage anyone you know who has received similar email to send copies to the address or site above. You can also send a copy to the IST Security Operations Centre at email@example.com, so that we will be aware when these problems arise.
You can find out more about CASL at http://fightspam.gc.ca.