Universities Tighten Up on Computer Security; Stronger Measures Come after Someone Hacked the System Then Let the School Know

Article excerpt

Byline: WALTER C. JONES

ATLANTA - Since most high-tech criminals aren't as accommodating as one recent university hacker, the state's 35 public colleges and universities, and network of public libraries are implementing new policies designed to tighten the security of their computers.

Last week, University of Georgia officials began investigating the case of a hacker who contacted the school to report a security vulnerability. UGa Police Chief Jimmy Williamson said Tuesday the ongoing investigation was delayed by witnesses who were out of town during the holiday weekend.

The hacker only accessed some dummy computer pages and merely reported a vulnerability the school had already discovered and was in the process of correcting, according to UGa spokesman Tom Jackson. Even though the hacker may have professed pure intentions, snooping around someone else's computer is against the law.

Unlike most crimes that require the physical presence of the criminal, hacking can originate anywhere, adding to the challenge of preventing it.

"They can commit the crime from right there in their living room across the ocean," Williamson said.

As much as 83 percent of the traffic on the computer network for the public colleges and public libraries is unwelcome, according to Stan Gatewood, chief of information security with the University System of Georgia.

"We're under attack and being scanned and probed on a daily basis," he said. …

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