While many "hacktivists" have caused controversy and disarray by hacking into critical sites such as the Chicago Police Department's home page and the Federal Bureau of Investigation's, website, one has struck at the institutional system that has created nearly $1 trillion in debt – higher education.
According to the Associated Press, the University of Nebraska in Lincoln has reported that a hacker has breached one of its main databases on May 23, resulting in an investigation of the matter that brought university officials to an undergraduate student, whose name has yet to be released to the public.
"Once a suspect was identified, law enforcement investigators confiscated computers and related equipment from the suspect to begin the process of forensic analysis," said Nebraska State College System chancellor Stan Carpenter. "As the investigation continued, the breach into the NSCS database was discovered."
The database service that was hacked into holds all the student, alumni and employee records owned by the college. A university technician was able to shut down the breach within 16 hours of it being discovered. Although the suspect may have gained access to sensitive information, officials do not believe that any of it was downloaded. The breached database carried the Social Security numbers, addresses, grades, transcripts and housing and financial aid information of current students, alumni and employees back to 1985.
Furthermore, state officials say that the perpetrator may have gained access to sensitive information from other Nebraska schools such as Chardron State, Peru State and Wayne State University.
Although the university's IT and security department were able to halt the breach before anything drastic occurred, other institutions that are responsible for similar sensitive information may benefit from the use of a database service that provides exceptional database administration.
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