Application Security // Database Security
4/24/2013
01:10 PM
Connect Directly
LinkedIn
Google+
Twitter
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

Hacking Higher Education

The cybersecurity challenge on college campuses lies as much with the students as with malicious outsiders.

InformationWeek Green -  Mar. 4, 2013 InformationWeek Green
Download the entire May 2013 issue of InformationWeek Education, distributed in an all-digital format (registration required).


Hacking Higher Education When a faculty member at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, logged in to the university's grade book last fall, she realized something was wrong: The grades in the online system didn't match her paper records. She was alert enough to see this was no mere glitch.

In March, after months of investigation, police charged two students with hacking the system to inflate grades. Police maintain that Beckley Parker, 21, of Weston, Conn., had changed his own grades for 17 classes since the spring of 2011, and also changed grades for 50 other students, according to the Dayton Daily News. David Callahan, 22, of Cambridge, Mass., reportedly changed his own grade once and two other students' grades. Although the facts are subject to interpretation, it seems the two were either trying to help fraternity brothers or other friends at the same time they were improving their own grades, or they may have been trying to cover their tracks by changing more than one grade in each case.

All it took for them to make the changes was an inexpensive keylogger device, inserted between the keyboard and the computer it was attached to, which allowed them to record the actions of teachers entering their passwords for the grading system. They were then able to access the system at will.

After cooperating with investigators, the students avoided being charged with a felony, instead accepting dismissal from the university and pleading guilty to multiple counts of "attempted unauthorized use of property," a misdemeanor.

Miami University's information security officer, Joe Bazeley, says an attack on the university's learning and grading systems is actually worse than the sort of attacks, namely information theft and exposure, that used to keep him up at night before the keylogger incident. "We produce knowledge and identify that via grades and a diploma," Bazeley says. The grade book hack "challenges the integrity of those grades and diplomas," he says.

Learn From The Hacks

Report Cover
Schools Do More With Less

Technology advances are providing new tools for learning. The challenge is how to take advantage of the opportunities when resources are stretched thin. Our report is free with registration.
Get This And All Our Reports

Unfortunately, examples abound in higher education of the other kind of security breach.

An undergraduate at the University of Nebraska last year was able to break into a database associated with the university's PeopleSoft system, exposing Social Security numbers and other sensitive information on about 654,000 students, alumni and employees. According to our sister website Dark Reading, the university was lucky enough to detect the breach and shut it down quickly. An IT staffer picked up on an error message that seemed like evidence of something amiss, and a recently installed security information and event management system helped network managers sort through system logs and collect enough evidence to allow police to get a warrant to confiscate the computer of the student believed to have been behind the attack.

In March, Salem State University in Massachusetts alerted 25,000 current and former students and staff that their Social Security numbers may have been compromised in a database breach. If the pattern of the last few years repeats itself, expect higher education institutions to experience another half dozen major security breaches by the end of 2013.

To read the rest of the article,
download the May 2013 issue of InformationWeek Education.

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Oldest First  |  Newest First  |  Threaded View
PJS880
100%
0%
PJS880,
User Rank: Ninja
6/16/2013 | 3:24:00 PM
re: Hacking Higher Education
I have worked on the
IT security team where I attend school, and they have several measures set up
for intrusion detection and penetration testing. Universities must keep up to date with threats
they are facing, by hiring third party red teams to try and penetrate their
systems. Not to mention these are
younger adults and maybe think they can us what they are learning and misuse it
for they own personal gains. At the very least Universities are more aware of
the threats they face so that they can better prepare for them.

Paul Sprague

InformationWeek Contributor
Wil22
50%
50%
Wil22,
User Rank: Apprentice
5/27/2014 | 12:48:12 AM
Hacking Higher Education
Thanks for sharing such an integral topic to all of us readers. Hacking is the very powerful tool which is being used for negative purposes like manipulating online grades and results of universities which is such a shamful act for some students. It is required for the college to do some strict and fool proof online security measures to avoid such cases in near future. Chemistry Coursework
Homework Help
100%
0%
Homework Help,
User Rank: Apprentice
6/20/2014 | 4:59:14 AM
How to alleviate these incidents?
Hi,

Thanks for sharing such news. I have never thought of this as a possibility. Students using some open source hacking software to hack into the system and pleading guilty seems like a story from some movie. 



I had a similar incident with Keylogger. Few of my friends installed Keylogger on my laptop and I was not aware of the changes. I entered my password and userid, and a text file was generated against every key i pressed. 

As the author pointed out about the learning from hacks, I did the same. I never hand over my laptop to anyone. 

 

Thanks

Susan

Assignment Help
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Cartoon
Current Issue
Flash Poll
Video
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2013-5467
Published: 2014-08-29
Monitoring Agent for UNIX Logs 6.2.0 through FP03, 6.2.1 through FP04, 6.2.2 through FP09, and 6.2.3 through FP04 and Monitoring Server (ms) and Shared Libraries (ax) 6.2.0 through FP03, 6.2.1 through FP04, 6.2.2 through FP08, 6.2.3 through FP01, and 6.3.0 through FP01 in IBM Tivoli Monitoring (ITM)...

CVE-2014-0600
Published: 2014-08-29
FileUploadServlet in the Administration service in Novell GroupWise 2014 before SP1 allows remote attackers to read or write to arbitrary files via the poLibMaintenanceFileSave parameter, aka ZDI-CAN-2287.

CVE-2014-0888
Published: 2014-08-29
IBM Worklight Foundation 5.x and 6.x before 6.2.0.0, as used in Worklight and Mobile Foundation, allows remote authenticated users to bypass the application-authenticity feature via unspecified vectors.

CVE-2014-0897
Published: 2014-08-29
The Configuration Patterns component in IBM Flex System Manager (FSM) 1.2.0.x, 1.2.1.x, 1.3.0.x, and 1.3.1.x uses a weak algorithm in an encryption step during Chassis Management Module (CMM) account creation, which makes it easier for remote authenticated users to defeat cryptographic protection me...

CVE-2014-3024
Published: 2014-08-29
Cross-site request forgery (CSRF) vulnerability in IBM Maximo Asset Management 7.1 through 7.1.1.12 and 7.5 through 7.5.0.6 and Maximo Asset Management 7.5.0 through 7.5.0.3 and 7.5.1 through 7.5.1.2 for SmartCloud Control Desk allows remote authenticated users to hijack the authentication of arbitr...

Best of the Web
Dark Reading Radio
Archived Dark Reading Radio
This episode of Dark Reading Radio looks at infosec security from the big enterprise POV with interviews featuring Ron Plesco, Cyber Investigations, Intelligence & Analytics at KPMG; and Chris Inglis & Chris Bell of Securonix.