ProjectWestWind: TeamGhostShell hacks and dumps 120,000 records from 100 U.S. and non-U.S. universities (updated)

Over on Softpedia, Eduard Kovacs alerts us all to a paste from a group of hackers who call themselves TeamGhostShell. In a paste today on Pastebin, they introduce “ProjectWestWind,” exposing the hacks and vulnerabilities in universities around the world.   I’m deleting their rationale and links to data dumps, but here’s a bit of their project description:

Our targets for this release have been the top 100 universities around the world. After carefully filtering the ones that we’ve already leaked before and the ones where Anonymous has in major operations, we have eventually got together a new fresh list. The majority of them should be here. Also, some of us decided to go ahead and add vulnerable links to the other ones anyway, which you can find at the bottom, at “Other Universities”.

side note* We tried to keep the leaked information to a minimum, so just around 120.000+ accounts and records are here, leaving in their servers hundreds of thousands more. (When we got there, we found out that a lot of them have malware injected. No surprise there since some have credit card information stored.)

The following is a list of universities for which data were dumped. The number in parentheses indicates the number of servers the hackers accessed and downloaded data from):

  • Harvard
  • Cambridge  (two servers)
  • Stanford (two servers)
  • Princeton
  • John Hopkins (five servers)
  • Imperial College London
  • University of Michigan (seven servers)
  • Tokyo University (four servers)
  • University of Wisconsin (four servers)
  • University of Pennsylvania
  • Cornell University (three servers)
  • Kyoto University
  • University of Houston
  • Linkoping University
  • New York University (two servers)
  • University of Edinburgh (three servers)
  • University of Maryland
  • University of British Columbia (four servers)
  • University of Texas (two servers)
  • University of Colorado (three servers)
  • Duke University (two servers)
  • Rutgers University (two servers)
  • Manchester University (three servers)
  • University of Pittsburgh (two servers)
  • University of Zurich (two servers)
  • University of Florida (two servers)
  • University of Berlin
  • Utrecht University
  • Osaka University
  • Heidelberg University (three servers)
  • Moscow State University (two servers)
  • University of Freiburg (three servers)
  • Texas A&M University (four servers)
  • Boston University (two servers)
  • McMaster University (three servers)
  • University of Goettingen (two servers)
  • Purdue University (two servers)
  • University of Nottingham
  • University of Sheffield
  • Uppsala University (two servers)
  • University of Basel (two servers)
  • University of Arizona (two servers)
  • Case Western Reserve University (two servers)
  • Arizona State University (two servers)
  • Nagoya University
  • Tohoku University
  • University of Bristol
  • Ohio State University
  • University of Melbourne
  • University of Oslo
  • University of Utah
  • University of Strasbourg (two servers)
  • University of Rome (four servers)

The preceding list does not include their link of vulnerable sites.

So…. what will the U.S. Education Department think about the security of universities that amass tremendous amounts of personally identifiable information on students? What will it do, if anything?  I have contacted them and left a message asking for a statement about these breaches and will update this blog entry if/when I get a response.

Update: I spoke with a spokesperson for U.S. Education Dept. They said they’d have no comment as it didn’t involve a breach of data they held.  Amazing. You’d think that the federal education agency would be concerned if universities were not adequately securing students’ education records, but not only does USED have no comment on this story, they don’t even know how many universities have data breaches each year.  How do I know that? Well, I filed under FOI last year to see what reports they had on breaches, and the only records were breaches involving records maintained by them or an agency for them.  Not one breach report from a university was among the records they sent in response to my request.  So even though they have the potential to cut off federal funds for violations of FERPA, there seems to be a Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell approach to university breaches.  How disturbing.

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