The University of North Carolina Wilmington announced yesterday that one of its servers had been breached by an unknown entity. The incursion comes with the possibility that student and teacher information, everything from their names to their social security numbers, was made vulnerable. While there is no evidence yet that this information was accessed or stolen, the UNCW IT systems team remains diligent in their investigation, hoping to find no evidence of any fraud as the probe is completed over the next several weeks.
Not the First School to Be Hit, Not the Last
The attack on UNCW is just another in a string of digital intrusions on college servers in the last few years. Just in the last three months, at least two other schools, North Dakota University and the University of Maryland, were hit by cyber-criminals with varying degrees of success or destruction — all depending on which side you look at it from. Some 300,000 students and additional faculty are said to have been impacted by the North Dakota attack. Maryland, on the other hand, was hit twice in March alone, putting its 288,000 students, plus faculty, at risk for fraud as well.
Continuing 2014’s Terrible String of Cyber Mishaps
All in all, 2014 has been a terrible year for server security and the exploitation of bugs in popular pieces of consumer and enterprise technology. April saw the official uncovering of Heartbleed, a hole in secure-socket-layer (SSL) technology used by eCommerce websites, banks, social media platforms, and most of the rest of the web. From routers to cell phones to computers, no matter what it is that uses SSL, the bug left it vulnerable to hackers.
“Working hand in hand with cyber security companies, we know that it’s important to protect servers online, as well as physically,” explains Marcos Garza, Owner and CEO of Global 1 Resources.
As if Heartbleed, an identity thief’s dream, wasn’t bad enough, Microsoft announced this week that Internet Explorer, its long running web browser, also had a huge security vulnerability. The security loophole, said to have affected every version of IE, left users so vulnerable to attack the United States Department of Homeland Security issued a warning asking Americans to stop using the browser. It’s since been patched.
All of this to say that as technology continues to progress and cyber-criminals become ever more emboldened, steps need to be taken by UNCW, engineers of SSL and other protocols, and private citizens to be more vigilant with valuable information. Fraud and financial ruin are no easy things to get over.