News / London

Campus police probe portal potty-mouth

Um, sorry for the intrusion. I was just trying to “prove a point about a loophole.”

So far, that's the only thing anyone has heard from the person supposedly responsible for hacking Western's student-council election site.

The apology ' and explanation ' was sent anonymously on Wednesday to the student newspaper. By then, staff and members of the university students' council had already spent hours trying to figure out what went wrong.

“It was a late night,” USC president Andrew Forgione said on Thursday.

Concerns about hacking were raised about five years ago when elections were taken from paper ballots to the web, Forgione said. Because of that, the school built a special portal to handle the job instead of depending on an external service such as those used by many other universities.

“Honestly, we didn't think it would be possible,” he said about hacking. “We'd been assured it was safe.”

Forgione was eating dinner on Wednesday ' shortly before voting was set to close ' when he learned the impossible had happened: A hacker had gained access to the site and posted various welcome messages, including one that asked for input on Justin Bieber's haircut and another that read “University Erection.”

New ballots will be cast from Feb. 29 to March 1, and campus police are leading an investigation into the incident, Western spokesman Keith Marnoch said. As for students' personal information, it's safe and sound, he said. Students used identification numbers to log in and the information wasn't stored.

Systems used to maintain academic and other university records were untouched. Such information, Marnoch said, is protected at a much “higher security level” than that used on the election site.

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