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UNT technology employee reprimanded after making threats on Reddit

UNT technology employee reprimanded after making threats on Reddit

UNT technology employee reprimanded after making threats on Reddit
July 13
14:17 2015

Julian Gill | Staff Writer


A UNT library IT specialist was reprimanded last month for threatening comments he made on the public Internet forum Reddit, where he said he could prevent students from accessing laptops, computers, books and other electronic resources in the library, causing them to have costly late fees.

In a lengthy exchange on the website, Scott Longhofer, a UNT alumnus, wrote that he worked for UNT.

In doing so, the university violated section 1.2.9 of the UNT ethics policy, which states that faculty and staff members must avoid giving the impression that they could violate the ethical standards of the university.

In a corrective notice, Longhofer’s supervisor, John Luetkemeyer, wrote that Willis Library staff became aware of Longhofer’s online comments when “multiple sources” notified them.

“Your comments gave the appearance that the UNT Libraries IT department does not follow generally accepted administrator’s code of ethics and UNT’s code of ethics.”

In the notice, Longhofer said his comments were blown out of proportion.

“I feel my comments were taken out of context,” he wrote on a disciplinary document. “I specifically state that I would never do anything malicious as it is not allowed. Furthermore, my specific identity was brought to light not by me, but by a different person.”

On Reddit, Longhofer, going by MetalJerk, claimed he could create false overdue fines in student accounts to prevent them from checking out books and laptops. He also said he could disable a student’s ability to use electronic resources by accessing the library’s active directory database.

“Active directory generally doesn’t audit changes to users, so I could easily do whatever I wanted and there would be zero proof I did anything,” one comment read.

Jason Martin, system administrator for UNT Administrative Network Services, said the university has several active directory databases with student contact and account information. He said he is unfamiliar with the library database, but access to the information varies across each department.

“I don’t think anyone would be able to actually change any information in our active directory,” Martin said. “But if they had a secondary system that connects to it they might be able to control a library system.”

He added that within the Administrative Network Services IT support group, they are required to log any changes made in the system.

The UNT library IT support group declined to comment for this story, and Director of University Relations Kelley Reese said there is not an ongoing investigation.

Longhofer’s comments come at a time when the university is undergoing changes to its information technology infrastructure. UNT President Neal Smatresk said all employees are expected to follow UNT policy as to not interrupt day-to-day functions or pose risks to student accounts. In an interview, Smatresk spoke of the international efforts to support online security.

“There’s a growing urgency in educational institutions,” he said. “I know we need to do better with cyber security.”

Featured image is a screenshot from Reddit, courtesy of a reader tip.

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