Kent State reportedly received the third spot of the top 10 universities listed as the most registered emails on the Ashley Madison website.
During the summer, an organization called “Impact Team” infiltrated the database of ashleymadison.com, a Canadian dating site for people in committed relationships to cheat on their significant others. The group then leaked the information of 32 million accounts through their emails and account information, revealing public officials, company employees and members of universities.
According to Inside Higher Ed, of the data leaked from the Ashley Madison site, 653 email addresses listed ended in “kent.edu.” Inside Higher Ed’s IT department found nearly 75,000 “.edu” emails, which they claimed was more than the “.gov” or “.mil” email addresses. The site also gave a disclaimer of the information that Ashley Madison doesn’t verify email addresses and the universities’ emails might belong to former employees or students.
Jon Maletic, a computer science professor, said the news didn’t surprise him that a group compromised Ashley Madison’s information. Maletic said the problem with information security, falls in the realm of human error more than anything else.
“You can go and hire great technical people, systems guys and gals, and they can be very diligent,” he said. “You can pay them a lot, they can work really hard to keep your system secure, and all it takes is one person to hand out something or leave something on your desk and you’re compromised.”
In his opinion, Maletic said KSU’s emails surprised him, although statistically, he agreed the hundreds of emails may come from former students and faculty since emails aren’t terminated after their employment or enrollment. The emails listed compared to the thousands of total Kent State emails are a small percentage by themselves he said.
However, though the site may have a moral gray area, encouraging cheating with its slogan, “Life is short. Have an affair,” Maletic said the hackers still are in the wrong.
“Legally, those people did something wrong. They broke into a private organizations and stole information from them,” Maletic said. “That is a crime, no matter how you look at it, they did break in and steal intellectual property. I think a lot of organizations are really upset by these sorts of break-ins because it happens quite a bit.”
Gwen Volkert, a computer science professor, said these break-ins need more investigations to understand how these occur. Many of the solutions of the problems, Volkert said, need to rely more on the knowledge of how some hackers operate.
“The more we find out about the hacker community in general, the more we can bring attention to the IT departments in general,” she said. “But you can’t be fought with passwords, it’s got to be really seriously protected.”
Maletic added the increasing gap of knowledge of the technical security of average computer owners and professional hackers will put more people in danger and open to attacks like these.
“You really need to understand what this machine is on your desk in order to protect you and yourself,” he said.
Contact Bruce Walton at [email protected]