Georgia Tech announced that a vulnerability in a web application allowed an attacker to gain access to the personal information of up to 1.3 million students, college applications, staff, and faculty members.
Investigating a performance issue in one of their web applications, staff of Georgia Tech discovered that an unauthorised third-party had gained access to the server in December 2018 through a vulnerability in a web application.
Through this vulnerability, the intruders were able to gain access to a database that contained the personal information of up to 1.3 million students, applicants, and staff members. This information included a person's name, addresses, social security numbers, and birth dates.
While the vulnerability in the web application has since been patched, Georgia Tech has not disclosed what was causing the performance issue that led them to discover the breach. It is possible that the attackers were utilising the server for further attacks on external servers or had installed malware, such as mining software that utilised server's resources and impacted performance.
This is the second security incident Georgia Tech was affected by in the past year.
Georgia Tech is ranked 8th among all public universities in the United States, 7th in the Best Engineering Schools ranking, 35th among all colleges and universities in the United States by US News & World Report rankings, and 34th among global universities in the world by Times Higher Education rankings.
For a university that is widely known for their technological capability to be breached twice within such a short period of time is something that should not be viewed lightly. Despite the public awareness created over the past few years especially in the US, it is indeed shocking and a surprise to learn that the university is still vulnerable to such an attack.
Was it the personal information of the students, staff and faculty members that the intruder was actually targeting? Or the vast research data that the university holds since it is reputed to be the smartest public university in the US?
One of our local top universities also has their data breached several months ago. The alleged hacker or hackers did it as a 'warning' to the administrators of the university for them to 'beef' up their cyber posture. Is no news thereafter means good news or the breach actually really happened, an issue which the administrator of the university has denied happening.