FBI probes theft of data at university


Published: Saturday, January 25, 2003 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, January 24, 2003 at 9:55 p.m.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. - A hacker has stolen foreign students' personal information from the University of Kansas, which had collected the data under Bush administration orders.
The information probably would not prove useful to terrorists because authorities believe they know exactly what was taken, FBI spokesman Jeff Lanza said.
FBI investigators Friday were trying to track down whoever broke into the university's computer system last week, taking information including Social Security, passport and university identification numbers from about 1,450 foreign students.
The school collected the data as part of new homeland security measures designed to more closely track the movements of foreigners in the United States.
Gasim Bukhari, a Saudi Arabia native and president of the Muslim Student Association, said he fears his and other students' names could be used to commit terrorism or other crimes.
"We really don't need anything like that to be occurring right now because of all the regulations regarding international students," Bukhari said.
The data could be used to make fraudulent identification, but because authorities think they know what was taken, they can watch for the fakes, said Chris Wysopal, a security expert with AtStake Inc., a computer security firm in Cambridge, Mass.
The hacking took place on several occasions beginning Jan. 17, but was not discovered until late Tuesday, university officials said.
The university notified authorities Wednesday.
University Chancellor Robert Hemenway said school officials think they have patched the hole that allowed the hacker to download the personal information.

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