Experts: University of Nebraska cyber attack was unsophisticated

There have been more than 30 security breaches in higher education this year.

The hacking of information on more than 650,000 University of Nebraska (UN) students, alumni, parents, and employees—which ranks among higher education’s largest data breaches—had the markings of an amateur job.

The university announced last week that the school’s student information system was hacked, possibly revealing the Social Security numbers, financial aid data, birth dates, course grades, and home addresses of University of Nebraska-Lincoln, the University of Nebraska at Omaha, the University of Nebraska Kearney, the University of Nebraska Medical Center and the Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture stakeholders dating back to 1985.

UN officials said the centralized information system was exposed for hours before an IT staffer discovered the breach. Since then, UN police have seized computers and electronic equipment from an undergraduate student who might be connected to the data breach.…Read More

Purdue’s student achievement technology goes national

A tech tool can helps students stay on track for success.
Course Signals is an educational technology tool that can help improve student achievement and lead to better student retention.

A Purdue University-piloted tool that uses educational technology—and online “signals”—to warn some students that their grades are dropping, offer study-habit suggestions, and provide positive reinforcement to students who are acing quizzes and exams is being released nationally.

Course Signals” is being made available to higher-education institutions through a joint effort by SunGard Higher Education and Purdue University to help increase student achievement. Course Signals was developed at the university and piloted for three semesters before its 2009 launch. (See “Tech helps students adopt good study habits.”)

“We found in our research that this can improve student [achievement] an average of one letter grade for many students,” said Gerry McCartney, Purdue’s chief information officer, vice president for information technology, and Olga Oesterle England Professor of Information Technology. “Course Signals is an important step forward for higher education that can be implemented successfully at many universities and community colleges across the nation to improve student retention and success.”…Read More