Archive for Saturday, January 8, 2005

KU center reports computer hacking

FBI investigating security breach at Parsons institute

January 8, 2005


For the third time in two years, the FBI is investigating a computer hacking crime on a Kansas University computer containing personal information.

KU began sending out letters this week to those who might have been affected by the security breach, which involved a server at KU's Life Span Institute at Parsons.

"It was kind of shocking to us," said Susan Roberts, a Lawrence resident whose husband, Harold, received a notification letter Thursday. "These kinds of things are scary."

The letter Roberts received said information on the server included the name, address, phone number, date of birth, health status and special needs of those who have accessed services in Parsons.

David Lindeman, director of the institute at Parsons, said the breach was noticed Nov. 29. It took several weeks to determine which files might have been affected, he said. He refused to say how many letters have been sent or how many people might be affected.

"I believe we're trying to take appropriate steps to contact anyone that might be affected," Lindeman said. "We have no evidence any of the information was accessed or has been used."

Jeff Lanza, a special agent with the FBI in Kansas City, Mo., confirmed his agency was investigating the crime but said he couldn't provide further details.

The server contained information on people who have accessed programs at the Parsons center, which focuses on improving the lives of people with disabilities through training and technology.

Roberts, the Lawrence resident, said she was unsure why her husband's information was in the Parsons computer. She said he hadn't accessed programs there and didn't have a disability.

¢ A computer hacker gained entry to a secure server Nov. 29 at Kansas University's Life Span Institute at Parsons.¢ KU sent letters notifying people whose information might have been affected, which includes people who have accessed programs at the Parsons center.

Two previous hacking incidents in recent years were traced to hackers in foreign countries, Lanza said. Those were a January 2003 incident in which personal information on 1,450 international students was accessed, and an April 2004 incident involving information on patients at Watkins Health Center.

In both cases, Lanza said, the investigation was turned over to authorities in those countries, but he said he was unaware of any arrests made in connection with the crimes.

Marilu Goodyear, vice provost for information services, said each of the three incidents involved different methods of accessing KU computer files. She said KU continued to improve its computer security.

"There are increasing numbers of ways of intruding into systems," she said. "It's the typical cops-and-robbers thing: They keep finding ways to get to it, and we are having to find new ways to block it."

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