Archive for Thursday, January 23, 2003

Statement by Hemenway on theft of foreign student data from KU

January 23, 2003


The following is a statement released by Kansas University Chancellor Robert Hemenway Thursday afternoon regarding the theft of information on international students from a KU database.

"The computer hacking incident discovered at KU on Tuesday is a matter of grave concern and we are treating it with the utmost seriousness.

"This university highly values its international student community, and all our students. We are doing everything possible to contact those affected by this incident. We regret that this theft of data took place and are distributing information and resources our students can use to reduce their personal risk of identity theft.

"While no one can guarantee the absolute security of electronic data, I am confident that we have closed the temporary "hole" in our system, which occurred while we were enhancing our computer security. Further, we are redoubling our existing efforts to prevent a repeat of this incident.

"Obviously, KU is not the only victim. Hacking is a crime, not a "game." It costs government, businesses, universities and individuals worldwide billions of dollars annually to defend against and then repair the damage that can result.

"In November, for example, U.S. prosecutors charged a British man with hacking into nearly 100 government and private-sector computers and causing $1.6 million in damage. He allegedly stole passwords, deleted files, monitored traffic and shut down computer networks on military bases. He also hacked into NASA, the University of Tennessee, a public library in Bethlehem, Pa., and several private businesses.

"Although serious, this incident has not affected our ability to comply with the federal mandate to maintain a Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) database, as required by the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service. Our experience may serve as a warning to other universities about the potential that exists for criminal access.

"KU is assisting the FBI fully in its efforts to identify and apprehend the person or people responsible for this incident."

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