University of Pittsburgh Subject of “Anonymous” YouTube Threat

Mark Nootbaar April 30, 2012

The global cyber security and privacy activist group “Anonymous” has taken aim at the University of Pittsburgh.  In a video posted on YouTube the group claims it has hacked into the university’s computer system and has downloaded personal information about Pitt students, employees and alumni.

The video says that included in the more than 200 gigabytes of hacked data is student passwords and user names, parental and address information, payment information including credit card data, and other sensitive data.

University of Pittsburgh Spokesperson Robert Hill says the university has examined its systems and has found no evidence of any breach.

The video claims students who had complained to the school’s administration tipped off Anonymous to the vulnerabilities.  The University reportedly has not reacted to the calls and has not closed the vulnerabilities.  The video also hints that the university might have lied to law enforcement officials and that supporters of the group have been arrested.

Anonymous said it has deleted the data from the University’s server to prevent other hackers from getting the information.  It has called on the university to make the needed security changes, inform those whose information has been compromised and post an apology on its main page for at least 15 days.  The video says if the demands are not met the group will release the data on its own.

The video posted by YouTube user "AnonOperative13" using a synthesized voice, was posted April 26th.  It is impossible to tell if the individual or individuals posting the video have any affiliation with a larger movement or any ability to hack into complex computer systems.  AnonOperaative13 has posted three other warning videos.

Anonymous is currently in a fight against the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act recently passed by Congress and several businesses and universities it feels are not adequately protecting customer data.  In recent years the group has been blamed for cyber attacks on credit card companies and government entities including the pentagon. The group has also threatened Google and Facebook and Pennsylvania-based tear gas maker Combined Systems.

The group making the YouTube post has not been associated with the string of bomb threats at the university.