Australia’s universities hacked on a regular basis



blog Not all of the hype around IT security can be believed at the moment — several times when your writer has investigated so-called ‘hacking’ attacks in recent months, we’ve found only low-level script-kiddie-type of behaviour at the bottom of the situation. However, there definitely are some serious break-ins around, as chronicled in this somewhat disturbing article published in late April by citizen journalism site The Citizen. According to the site:

In October, Melbourne University was the subject of a data breach at the hands of hackers reportedly linked to “Anonymous”, a loosely affiliated and controversial network of internet activists. In an operation dubbed Project WestWind, more than 120,000 staff records from leading universities across the world were uploaded to PasteBin, including the profiles of more than 500 staff from Melbourne’s engineering department.

It’s an interesting situation the IT security scene is in at the moment. There is no doubt that serious attacks on major Australian organisations are indeed occurring, as this article by The Citizen demonstrates with regard to the local university scene. And this isn’t particularly surprising — even when I was at university a decade ago, it was common knowledge that there were many unsecured systems on campus. However, at the same time, we’re seeing an incredible level of fluff out there — where even unsuccessful hacking attempts with often contextually trivial aims (such as adding PCs to botnets) are taken seriously and given a huge stature. One wonders if there will come a point where mainstream Australia understands this key difference between Internet vandalism or webservers and serious IT system penetrations with malicious aims. It seems likely we’ve a while to go yet.


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