USyd systems admin attacked in website hack

Website hack affects front and information pages, spares student services

Replacement message placed on University of Sydney front page on Friday.

Replacement message placed on University of Sydney front page on Friday.

Users of the Eris Free IRC network (EFnet) have claimed responsibility for hacking Web servers at Sydney University last Friday, causing outages to the front page over the weekend.

The initial hacking appears to have been a personal attack on the university’s UNIX Systems Administrator, Jie Gao, with a message (pictured) blaming him for faults to server security leading to the vulnerabilities.

“I have never met such a retard network administrator,” read the message of the website. “Hes been hacked 3 times and as logs show he is to retarded to bother securing the server and yet he has qualifications and works at usyd WHAT THE flap? come on i dont have no qualifications but yet i can run rings around this jerk ... Jie Gao, you really need to go back to uni and not get the qualifications out of a cereal box because not only have i got your web server i have ¾ of your network i just like to make you look like a real idiot because YOU ARE CLUELESS....”

The website front page was restored at least once over the weekend, but later re-hacked, with replacement messages changing to random statements and shows of support for victims of the recent flood disasters in Queensland.

Website administrators blamed “scheduled maintenance” for the website outage, but later removed the scheduled aspect on the placeholder page.

At time of writing, the website remained down.

It is believed only the server running the front page and main web pages was affected, with other portions of the website and internal student and staff servers remaining online throughout the weekend.

However, the hack comes at a typically busy time for the university, as Year 12 graduates receive offers for entry to the institution and current students enrol to new classes.

Computerworld Australia contacted support and communications staff at the University of Sydney but did not receive a reply at time of writing.

The university, which recently hosted a mashup event to create Facebook alternatives, has been hacked at least three times prior.

The website outage comes four months after both RMIT in Victoria and the University of New South Wales suffered similar website outages, though due to server difficulties rather than external manipulation.

Follow James Hutchinson on Twitter: @j_hutch

Follow Computerworld Australia on Twitter: @ComputerworldAU

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