Archive for Thursday, February 6, 2003

KU offers no hacker guarantee

Despite defenses, breach could happen again, officials say

February 6, 2003


Kansas University officials say they can't guarantee it won't happen again.

And concerns linger among international students as the FBI continues the search for a computer hacker who raided a university database, stealing personal information on about 1,450 students collected as part of new homeland security measures.

Marilu Goodyear, vice provost for information services, said it was unrealistic to guarantee something like the Jan. 22 hacking incident wouldn't happen again.

"We're doing everything we can to secure our system," she said. "I don't think there's any information-technology manager in this country that would say their systems are totally secure. We get people who try to hack into our systems every day, and we defend against that every day."

There are no fresh developments in the investigation.

"There's nothing new to report on that," FBI Special Agent Jeff Lanza said.

That leaves many international students uneasy about what might become of their purloined information, which included Social Security numbers, passport data and other sensitive details.

Some students said they feared they would meet problems boarding airplanes or leaving and re-entering the United States.

KU student Maria Salcedo has dual citizenship in Ecuador and the United States, but her father, a Ph.D. student at KU, is not a U.S. citizen.

"My dad is worried about it," she said. "He has to go to South America soon."

Carl Rusnok, a spokesman for the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service's regional office in Dallas, said he couldn't say with certainty whether KU students' names would be on a red-flagged list.

"This is an FBI subject," he said. "This is fully covered and being handled by the FBI."

Luis Parreira, a senior from Brazil, says he's checking his credit-card accounts regularly as he wonders how long will it take to solve the crime and when he'll know in detail how it happened.

"I'm still concerned about what they can do with the data," he said.

Goodyear said she didn't know of any cases of students reporting suspected identity theft because of the Jan. 22 incident. She reminded students KU had set up a Web site,, to educate people about identity theft.

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