North Texas Daily

UNT pages attacked by hacker group

UNT pages attacked by hacker group

March 24
00:46 2015

Paul Wedding / Senior Staff Writer

Between 10 and 20 UNT web pages were defaced by a group of hackers March 22, leaving the pages disabled for approximately two hours.

The pages were hacked by individuals using the pseudonyms  Kingos.007, KeyStroke, and Doctor.Motaz. The sites went down at approximately 6 p.m. The problem was discovered by UNT at 6:30 p.m. and all sites were successfully shut down by 8 p.m.

The websites affected included the UNT financial aid page, the UNT recreation sports page, and the North Texas Daily’s website.

“Upon further investigation, we have discovered that custom code was exploited, causing issues with the website,” chief information security officer Charlotte Russell said.

The hackers said they were acting in response to continued involvement in violations of Internet freedom, with the hashtag [sic] #Free_Fallage_Team.

This comes after UNT was recently named a Center for Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Research by the National Security Agency and the Department of Homeland Security.

This isn’t the first time hackers have attempted to get into UNT web pages, news promotion specialist Margarita Venegas said.

“Hackers will try to get into any larger system to see what they can get,” she said.

Kyle Taylor, a former computer science student and Drupal Developer, believes the exploitation may have been due to the content management systems run by the websites Drupal and WordPress.

“Both are pretty similar content management systems in terms of technology, and in my experience WordPress generally has a worse track record in terms of how often sites get hacked,” he said.

Taylor said this wasn’t the first time Drupal has had problems with user exploitation.

“The last big security issue in Drupal was referred to as ‘Drupalgeddon,’ which was a very critical security flaw that allowed anonymous users to exploit any Drupal website,” he said.

Taylor said the issue with Drupal was fixed, but some sites may not have patched the problem afterward. Taylor said he isn’t sure if UNT falls into this category.

The attack also resulted in the Pohl Recreation Center having to shut down its computer system for the night, leaving the work of checking IDs solely to the staff.

According to www.zone-h.org, the hacker Kingos.007 has defaced at least 779 other web pages since July 2014.

Cyber attacks are becoming more common. The number of cyber security incidents rose to a projected number of 42.8 million, 48 percent higher than 2013, according to a study from consulting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers.

In a mass email to all students, Venegas said: “If you do not have anti-virus software installed on your personally owned computers or laptops, a McAfee Antivirus download is available for UNT System community members with a valid EUID at https://itss.untsystem.edu/security/antivirus-download.”

UNT recommends anyone who visited the targeted sites between 5:55 and 8 p.m. to run antivirus software on their computer. If they have no antivirus software, they can call the UNT IT Helpdesk at 940-565-2324.

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