Massive computer hack of American universities misses UO

Illustration of lock on a circuit board

Though the University of Oregon appears not to be affected in a recent cybertheft of data from U.S. universities, UO Information Services recommends beefing up passwords and being on guard.

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, approximately 3,800 professors' accounts across 144 U.S. universities were hacked and used to steal approximately 31 terabytes of intellectual property estimated to be valued at about $3.4 billion. The attack, reportedly, has been going on since 2013. The hackers are believed to have worked on behalf of the Iran-based Mabna Institute.

The UO's Information Security Office has found no effect on Oregon faculty, but anyone who thinks account information might mistakenly have been given to a fraudulent email or website should contact the Technology Service Desk at 541-346-4357; the latter four digits spell HELP on the keypad.

Hackers collected thousands of email accounts and tried to guess passwords, exploiting weak passwords to gain information from email accounts, computers and shared network files. Most victims are Microsoft Office 365 or Outlook users with weak passwords.

Although there seems to be no direct harm to the UO, the incident highlights a need for security in the face of persistent foreign cybercrime. Users are urged to use strong passwords for Duck IDs and other accounts and to use caution with email to avoid being a victim of phishing scams.