ASU online services suspended after hack

All students, faculty and alumni were locked out of their ASU online accounts Wednesday evening after the University shut down its Web services because of a privacy breach.

The University said access would continue to be unavailable until Thursday afternoon.

Around 5:20 p.m. Wednesday, the University announced the system might be compromised. An unknown individual downloaded an encrypted file containing the usernames and passwords of an unknown number of ASU students, faculty and staff, according to a statement released late Wednesday night by ASU media relations.

After the announcement, the University cut access to its website and MyASU, the service that provides access to Blackboard, ASU Gmail and the school directory.

It also houses pertinent identity information, including home addresses, social security numbers, and, for those enrolled in direct deposit, bank account and routing numbers.

It’s unclear what information the individual has pulled or could pull from MyASU. The University said the outage was a precautionary measure.

“Watch all important accounts, bank accounts and emails and even Facebook,” said journalism sophomore Joey Post, a freelance worker for the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication’s Technology Team.

Post said as soon as he heard about the breach, he told his mom, an ASU alumna, to keep an eye on her bank account.

The breach could be a malicious security compromise, or it could stem from hackers looking for a trophy, said Post, who specified he was not speaking on behalf of the tech department or the University.

“It’s kind of becoming a trophy or like a deer head, to say, ‘I hacked ASU,’ or ‘I hacked Sony,’ or ‘I hacked Microsoft’ … It’s not a surprise that it eventually happened to a large school,” Post said.

Those trying to access ASU’s website were met with a “This page is not available” message, causing some to worry over privacy and grades.

Political science and global studies junior Hunhee Peter Cho said he was taking an online test during the outage when the page froze. Cho said he’s worried “compromised” means his personal information was released.

“There is a possibility that my personal info, such as finances and financial aid, got hacked,” Cho said.

Exploratory sophomore Lambert Guzman had a discussion board post due midnight Wednesday in his Criminal Justice Crime Control class.

He also takes another online criminal justice class, and two hybrid courses, mathematics and French. Almost all the work is online.

“You don’t know if the teacher is going to feel sympathy over this and accept the work or not,” he said.

Guzman said all he could do was read his textbooks all night.

“I can’t do anything right now,” he said. “I have all this free time.”

Journalism graduate student Jarrod Nelson was working on a project on the Downtown campus around midnight, more than six hours into the outage.

Students were unable to log on to University computers Wednesday using their ASURITE IDs, but Nelson said he found his own way around the outage by entering a generic username-password combination.

“I feel like we were left on our own, stranded without a paddle,” Nelson said.

Post said IT workers were walking the Downtown campus to offer assistance.

“We were making sure (students were) able to log on to the computers …  and making sure if anybody had questions, we were there to answer them,” Post said.

Classes are being held Thursday as scheduled.

Jessica Testa, Caitlin Cruz and Julie Vitkovskaya contributed to this article. Reach the reporter at ymgonzal@asu.edu.

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