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Computer Hackers Intrude UGA Disability Center

Gareth Fenley, a graduate from University of Georgia came to know that a computer hacker gained access to her records when she received an e-mail on February 9, 2007. She was particularly shocked to find that the attacker not only accessed her financial records but even her psychological information.

The University is in touch with about 3,500 current and ex-students after a security violation exposed confidential data.

The hacker gathered the usual personal details such as names, birth dates and Social Security numbers and much more.

The University officials found that proper security protocols were lacking, said spokesman for the University, Tom Jackson in a statement that redandblack.com published on February 12, 2007. He assured the University will suspend the computer services technician for allowing the breach.

IT officials discovered the security breach on the weekend of first week of February 2007. They pulled back the computer off the server.

Jackson explained hackers are often on the lookout of weak networks, which they determine by "pinging" targeted hosts. For this they use an automated program that is capable of testing databases.

According to Jackson, University staff may not be aware if the hacker specifically targeted the resource center, but a hack into medical information was not usual.

A University committee is formulating plans that would explore into the update and integration of all its administrative information systems such as students' records, financial aid, business procedures and human resources.

The University distributed e-mails to 3,020 affected students on February 6, 2007 and will also notify the remaining 508 students via U.S. mail because the officials do not have their e-mail addresses. Mace and Karen Kalivoda, Director of Disability Resource Center signed the e-mail to inform students of the security leak and to encourage them to adopt precautionary steps.

Jackson said the current hacking into UGA computers is the fourth time in three years. However, officials think the leakage didn't help Internet thieves to steal identities. UGA experienced a massive hacking attack in January 2004 into a server containing 31,000 student applications' information. That was the first instance of computer hacking to access personal information.

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