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UA Computers Come in the Grip of Foreign Hackers

Overseas hackers made several intrusions into the computer network of UA during the last two months of 2006. They dropped files on a number of servers and workstations in the library, Student Union and Procurement Office.

Investigators in the campus could not find evidence of any other meddling, but are not sure about what was the extent of the motives of these attacks. Although the attackers intended to access several kinds of other data but they did not harm students' personal information and research oriented information, said Michele Norin, executive director for Center for Computing and Information Technology in news published at Arizona daily on January 9, 2007.

Norin said the infiltration affected upwards of 30 servers, while the Center was examining upwards of 350 workstations. It was trying to outline all the details of the incidents.

The hackers planted software on the systems in order to store files such as movies or games. Hackers typically use the same tactic to allow others to access files but it was not certain whether a similar breach occurred to the UA's computers, reflected Norin.

UA noticed the security violation on January 2, 2007 the first day after the New Years break, when a certain common process failed to start up thus giving the red signal. The first unauthorized access was in early November 2006 and the following access happened in December same year.

According to Norin the attack wasn't particularly unusual but it was prominent in the numerous workstations and servers it struck. The origin of the attacks seemed to be France.

All the UA's computers had firewalls and anti-virus software, but the hackers were successful anyway, said Johnny Cruz, a university spokesman. UA networks crashed down. There were disruption of service, and departments were closed for almost a week. Further actions included cleaning systems and deploying stronger programs to block future invasions. UA is working on the amount of monetary loss.

Alongside internal investigation, campus police together with the FBI are carrying out a criminal investigation.

Like most large networks, UA's system often falls in hackers' grips. In February, Romanian hackers invaded networks of the journalism department of UA.

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