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GCN : August 2013
GCN AUGUST 2013 • GCN.COM 9 Stanford University is telling all users of its network to change their passwords after an apparent security breach, the latest example of a growing cyber threat to the nation's universities. The university's chief nancial of- cer, Randall Livingston, e-mailed the university community advising people to make the change in wake of an "appar- ent breach of its information technol- ogy infrastructure similar to incidents reported in recent months by a range of companies and large organizations in the United States," according to a post at TechCrunch by Billy Gallagher, a Stanford student and co-president of the student body. The university did not yet know the extent of the breach or whether any personal information had been taken, according to the post. Although the seriousness, or the source, of the breach is unknown, the apparent attack re ects a mounting problem for U.S. universities, which are built around the idea of sharing informa- tion but which get bombarded by tens of thousands of attack attempts a day. The attacks have been increasing in sophistication as well as in frequency, often going undetected, which is prompting university of cials to recon- sider the open nature of their networks. "A university environment is very dif- ferent from a corporation or a govern- ment agency, because of the kind of openness and free ow of information you're trying to promote," David J. Shaw, the chief information security of- cer at Purdue University, told the New York Times. Some research universities work with government agencies on classi- ed projects, but even those that don't, like Stanford, still work on projects that produce patents and other intellectual property used in commercial, medical and academic elds. Last year, Gen. Keith Alexander, director of the National Security Agency called online intellectual property theft "the greatest transfer of wealth in his- tory," costing U.S. companies $250 billion a year. For universities, the threat means strengthening security from the inside out. "It's sort of the opposite of the corpo- rate structure," Paul Rivers, manager of system and network security at the Uni- versity of California, Berkeley, told the Times. "We treat the overall Berkeley network as just as hostile as the Internet outside."• Stanford probes breach as attacks on university networks soar BY KEVIN McCANEY Passwords to privileged accounts --- including default passwords in hardware and software and application backdoors as well as administrative accounts --- are the keys to the kingdom for intruders who target these accounts to get wide-ranging access to IT systems. A survey of IT security professionals and C-level executives by the information security company Cyber-Ark shows organi- zations struggling with the management of these accounts. Passwords too often are shared and too infrequently changed. Source: Cyber-Ark 11% 10% 15% 16% 21% 25% 53% 49% Each time after it has been used Monthly Every 60 days 90 days or longer Overall Government