[ISN] Hackers break into computers at IU again

From: InfoSec News (isnat_private)
Date: Tue Jun 12 2001 - 22:45:51 PDT

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    By George Stuteville
    Indianapolis Star
    June 12, 2001  
    BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Fears that computer hackers may have peeked at
    sensitive student information sent Indiana University officials to the
    post office to mail about 1,900 letters of apology Monday.
    Along with its regrets, the university also said it would pay the
    costs of up to three credit reports for anyone whose files may have
    been accessed by the hackers.
    The electronic break-in occurred late last month in School of Music
    computers that serve as host to an Internet Web site displaying
    information for prospective students.
    That Web site also collects information -- including Social Security
    numbers -- from those students for recruitment purposes.
    All but about 200 of the 1,900 who responded to the Web site supplied
    Social Security numbers, addresses, names and other data.
    Data thieves could use that information to get into bank or credit
    accounts or to create false identities, said Mark S. Bruhn, IU vice
    president for information technology.
    Bruhn said it appears their aim was to use the computer as a secret
    "safe haven" for an instant e-mail communication system.
    The hackers probably broke through the computer's "firewall" around
    May 23-25, causing some disruptions in the process.
    While troubleshooting those problems, IU technicians on June 4 found
    the weak spot in the computer software that had allowed the hackers
    access. The computer was immediately disconnected.
    The next day, Bruhn said, IU technicians discovered certain files and
    programs left by the hackers.
    The hackers had deleted evidence that would have allowed them to be
    traced, he added.
    It was also impossible to know whether any personal information
    actually had been taken.
    Gwyn Richards, dean of the School of Music, said prospective students
    no longer would be asked for their Social Security numbers. It always
    has been optional, he said.
    The use of Social Security numbers will be ended throughout the
    university by 2003.
    Earlier this year, a Swedish hacker downloaded the names and Social
    Security numbers of about 3,100 Indiana University students.
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