Harvard grad school site hacked, files distributed on BitTorrent network

Share this article:

The website of Harvard University's Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (GSAS) apparently was hacked on Monday, with some of its database files made available on a peer-to-peer file sharing network by someone who said they wanted to “demonstrate” the alleged lack of security on the university's server.

The attacker posted what purported to be four files from the GSAS site on the BitTorrent P2P network. The files were then listed on the Pirate Bay, a site that tracks torrents, information files that administer content downloads from BitTorrent users.

The hacked files were described in the posting as a backup file for the GSAS site server, a joomla.sql database file for the site, a contact list from the database, and a file described as “other minor things.”

The database file posting was accompanied by a grammatically incorrect statement, which announced that the attack was intended to demonstate the lack of security of Harvard's server, and specifically questioned the competance of Harvard's systems administrator.

“This is a backup of gsas.harvard.edu. We have released it because we want demonstration the insecurity of harvard's server…Maybe you don't like it but this is to demonstrate that persons like [administrator of the server] in they don't know how to secure a website.”

A separate file accompanying the site file release, labeled password.txt, contained the message “stupid people, you don't use a secure password.”

The GSAS website went offline on Monday and was not restored as of Tuesday afternoon. Harvard's media relations office did not return a call requesting comment.

News that a website for America's most prestigious university had been hacked was reported around the world. People's Daily Online in China took special note of the fact that Harvard's website had been attacked on “U.S. Presidents Day.”

 

 

 

Share this article:
You must be a registered member of SC Magazine to post a comment.

Sign up to our newsletters

TOP COMMENTS

More in News

Adobe exploit used to spread Dyre credential stealer

Adobe exploit used to spread Dyre credential stealer

Users running vulnerable Adobe software could be in danger of having credentials for Bitcoin websites stolen.

Staples is investigating a potential issue involving credit card data

Staples is investigating a potential issue involving credit ...

The company said it is investigating a potential issue involving credit card data and that customers are not responsible for fraudulent activity on cards if an issue is discovered.

Skills set a priority over legacy prejudices, experts say

Skills set a priority over legacy prejudices, experts ...

Cybersecurity expert Winn Schwartau and Robert Clark, a cyber law attorney at the Army Cyber Institute, discussed issues around hiring in the information security industry.