New Year's Hacks
Thursday, January 13, 2005; 9:43 AM
According to The Post, universities are popular hacker targets "because their systems house large amounts of personal data. But protecting the information is more complex than for a typical business because universities are built to foster collaboration and free exchange of information."
The Washington Post: George Mason Officials Investigate Hacking Incident (Registration required)
While it is not clear yet if data has been used for fraud, school officials are playing it safe. "Officials are strongly recommending that GMU students and employees contact their banks and creditors," Virginia's Community Times Newspapers reported. The Associated Press quoted GMU spokesman Daniel Walsch, who said that prior to the breach "the university was in the process of replacing students' Social Security numbers with other internal numbers to protect against identity theft. That was in response to a law passed last year requiring Social Security numbers to be removed from various ID cards to deter identity theft. Officials shut down part of the server after finding out about the hack job and are reviewing other computer security measures, he said."
Community Times Newspapers: Hacker Cracks GMU
The Associated Press via The Daily Press: Hackers Steal George Mason Student, Staff Information
And how is this for ironic? "GMU, with its main campus in Fairfax, has a reputation as a center for high-tech instruction. It is home to the Center for Secure Information Systems, a new venture with the Department of Homeland Security, which conducts research and development into making information systems more secure," the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported. More on this, from Computerworld: "The incident is a black eye for an institution that is one of a few select universities to be designated as Centers of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance Education by the National Security Agency. Students at the university's Information Assurance Scholarship Program are placed in Defense Department jobs upon completion of the program, according to the school's Web site."
The Richmond Times-Dispatch: GMU Confirms Computer Hacker Attack
Computerworld: Hacker Compromises Data At George Mason University
The Washington Times interviewed several GMU students, who were concerned about the security of their information at the university. "Sara Fernandez, a sophomore from Arlington, said that even if the hackers were not trying to steal personal information, they might have pointed the way for copycats. 'Mason's full of a lot of smart students,' she said. 'If one person can do it, I'm sure someone can figure out how to do it again.' Kia Kianersi, a communications major from Fairfax, said he thought the university had tighter security for its server. 'We're so close to Washington, D.C. I think our security would be [better] overall.'"
The Washington Times: GMU Officials 'Have No Idea' What Hacker Sought
A Wake-Up Call For T-Mobile
Late yesterday, cell phone carrier T-Mobile USA confirmed it suffered a security breach in 2003, in which a hacker stole sensitive files and the names and Social Security numbers of 400 customers. While few people were affected, it's a fascinating and complicated story.