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January 2nd, 2009

Lorain County Community College Servers Attacked By Hackers

Computer hacker was able to breach the security system of two Lorain County Community College servers in an attack during the Thanksgiving holiday break. It is believed that the hacker was not attempting to steal information or identities, but rather to pirate available server space, said Marcia Ballinger, vice president of strategic and institutional development. The attack did not disrupt the college’s operations.

One of the servers contained the records of approximately 22,000 students, community users, and employees and their Social Security numbers. That server hosted the college’s library card system. By working with the college’s computer experts, the FBI’s forensic experts will continue to investigate the breach in hopes of identifying the hacker, said Scott Wilson, FBI spokesman.

Everyone affected by the breach was notified by the college in a letter sent Friday. The letter, written on LCCC letterhead, contained information on how to contact Equifax and sign up for the credit monitoring system. Those who did not receive a letter were not affected, Ballinger said.

When the breach occurred, LCCC’s system detected the downloading of application files and a virus alert was initiated. The College’s Information Systems and Services staff immediately shut down the servers and blocked access, Ballinger said.

Hackers like the one who attacked LCCC have long since advanced from hobbyists who breach systems for fun. With available server space, hackers can take those crimes to a whole new level by launching underground Web sites that bounce from one IP address to another undetected.

LCCC has not experienced any hacking or cyber attack incidents in the past. Other colleges and universities in Ohio have been targeted in similar ways. Ohio University, Miami University and Antioch College all have experienced security breaches in recent years.

The breach is being investigated by forensic experts and the FBI.

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