Even with the use of passwords and firewalls, networks are not infallible.
There have been some incidents at major universities where the network
has been illegally accessed at the detriment of the university student
or faculty member.
There are two kinds of people that university networks should secure
against: “hackers” and “crackers”.
people who seek to use their expertise to break security systems. “Hackers” are
people who try to break into systems using their expertise for illicit
purposes. The art of “hacking” was made known in the mid-1990s
when the internet became huge. In the movie “Hackers,” Angelina
Jolie and Johnny Lee Miller break into many systems, including their
university network to set off the sprinklers.
The following are recent
examples of “hacking” and “cracking” at major
In March of 2003, online hackers broke into the network of the largest
university in the nation. The University of Texas, which boosts of having
more than 55,000 students and faculty members, was faced with one of
the largest security breaches at a university.
A 20-year-old UT student hacked into the network and stole information
on the 55,000 students and faculty. The student used millions of randomly
generated Social Security numbers to request records from the school’s
While there was no evidence that the student used the information for
evil causes, such a breach in a network could cause a potential frenzy,
causes people to distrust the Internet.
According to the Washington Post, the UT student turned himself into
Secret Service on March 14. Agents found the information on the student’s
home computer. The student could face as much as five years in prison
and be forced to pay $500,000 in restitution.
Another serious security breach occurred at Boston College last October
when a BC student illegally accessed the personal identification numbers
and Social Security numbers of students and faculty. The student, Douglas
Boudreau, found a security hole in Microsoft Windows in a public computer
on the campus. Boudreau installed keystroke-capturing software.
According to the The Register, a British computer-related journal,
a student was indicted by a Massachusetts grand jury for unauthorized
to a computer system, breaking and entering, identity fraud and interception
of wire communications. Unfortunately, neither a firewall nor a virus
protection program could stop the breach in security performed by the
BC quickly addressed the security breach and employed Internet
Technology (IT) to fix the hold in Microsoft Windows and check for
any other holes
in the network. Because of such an infringement in security, the
university warned students and faculty to change their PINs.
In January, an Ohio University senior put the security of the university
network to the test. Jeremy Valeda, the information-systems manager
for the OU Senate, accessed personal information of four members of
Senate, including Social Security numbers, tuition payments and grades.
Trying to point out the system was not secure; the Office of Judiciaries
reprimanded Valeda. Valeda was fired from his position as information-systems
manager, whose responsibilities were to maintain the security of the
Senate Web site, not access information on the Senate board members.
In November 1998, hackers broke into the network at Stanford University.
The hackers entered from Sweden and Canada. The systems were vulnerable
because security measures were not properly installed into the computer
network. Hackers entered via the Internet and installed a sniffer,
a program that steals data. The hackers were able to invade the first
when they discovered the security hole and then ventured into other
university systems. The security breach wasn’t discovered for
a month. By then, 5,000 user passwords were tampered with and used.
The hackers modified
parts of the university network.