The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Wednesday December 8th

Hacker Briefly Posts Porn on UNC Home Page

A sign hanging prominently in Academic Technology & Networks' security office reads, "In Internet time, new ways to misbehave online come along faster than institutions can create policies to deal with them."
ATN and the UNC community discovered the truth of that statement Wednesday afternoon when hackers replaced the main UNC Web site with a pornographic picture.
At about 3:15 p.m., visitors to the UNC home page were confronted with an image of a male and female engaging in sexual activity, the banner "University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Hacked Site" and the message, "Hi All, I 4m r00t! who 4re y? r00t bye China."
ATN officials said they took down the site within minutes. "We got the calls and weren't pleased, obviously," said Bruce Egan, assistant director of the Information Technology Response Center. "We got the site down as soon as possible so it would not be further offense to anybody."
Egan said when reports of the image flooded in, ATN staff picked up their red emergency phone and called the control center with instructions for the site to be taken down. "We take this type of situation and the reputation of the University very seriously," he said. "ATN will take a good hard look at what's going on."
The Web site was fixed and put back up after officials made sure no other areas of the site had been compromised.
Marian Moore, vice chancellor for information technology, said an investigation would be launched but that it would be difficult to find the source. "There are many ways a hacker can masquerade and essentially cover their tracks."
Officials said they do not know how the attack occurred. "Operating systems are a very complex environment and have flaws and errors that could be exploited," Moore said. "I suspect (the problem) was through an exploited flaw, but I don't know just what or how."
Jeanne Smythe, ATN director of computer policy, said ATN is working to determine the cause of the violation. "We will try to find out what did happen and what could be done to prevent it," she said.
Moore said ATN would pursue legal action if it found the culprit. But Egan said hacking was an inevitable problem, and the only thing UNC could do was continue to respond quickly to such situations. "We're a tasty target - a well-known university with a premiere site. It's very inviting."

The University Editor can be reached at udesk@unc.edu.


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