Commentaries
Hacker Hits Duke Computer System

Questions raised about Internet security

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March 26, 1999

A hacking incident at Duke University this week threatened the school's entire computer system and raised questions about Internet security. For several days, a computer hacker used a computer to exploit a temporary security hole in godzilla6, which is one of the six servers on the acpub system. The acpub system maintains about 30,000 accounts and has 19,000 active users. The security hole allowed the hacker unmonitored access to all traffic on godzilla6, and a device called a "sniffer" allowed him to collect all of the IDs and passwords coming through the machine.

The break-in caused godzilla6 to crash, which immediately paged the Office of Information Technology administrator. It is not clear whether the hacker accessed the lists generated by the "sniffer." Those in danger are likely the acpub account holders who used Telnet to log onto godzilla6 during those few days.

"Unlike highly secure sites, Duke does not restrict where people can access their accounts, how often they must change their passwords or even the length of passwords." reported The Chronicle, Duke University's student newspaper. In light of the recent break-in, users who do not change their passwords, as OIT advised, will have their accounts locked.

University of Washington may keep race-based scholarships

A new proposal at the University of Washington would keep race- and gender-based scholarships there intact, despite the passage of I-200, the ballot initiative adopted in Washington in November that bars discrimination by the state against individuals on the basis of their race, sex, etc.

The proposal, which was presented to the Board of Regents March 19, would allow money accepted from donors for restricted scholarships to be deposited into a "diversity pool." Students would then be matched for scholarships according to the specifics laid out by the donor, which could include the gender and race of the prospective scholarship recipient.

Restricted scholarships that were established before I-200 will continue to be awarded at the University of Washington, school officials told The Chronicle of Higher Education on March 19. However, donors will now be encouraged to offer scholarships through private organizations that are not affected by I-200. The same questions are being raised over restricted scholarships at many North Carolina colleges and universities.

The University of North Carolina-Pembroke, for example, offers 16 privately funded scholarships that appear to be funded on the basis of race. The University has a minority enrollment rate of 35 percent. Most of these scholarships go to support Native Americans, who comprise 25 percent of the minority enrollment.

A bill in the General Assembly last year that would have changed the selection criteria for students receiving race-based aid to include students who are financially needy, the first in their generation to attend college, or students who are from a particular geographic location, was voted down.

The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, which governs North Carolina, ruled in the 1995 case Podberesky v. University of Maryland at College Park that scholarship programs restricted to students based on their race are unconstitutional. Race-based scholarships ignore those students of other races who are also in genuine need. Worse, they are often awarded to students precisely because they are minorities and not because they are in genuine need (for more on race-based scholarships, see Clarion, October 1998 ).


 


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