BU President Responds to Hacking

October 26, 2013

The following is an op-ed article submitted to the Brandon Sun newspaper by Brandon University President and Vice-Chancellor Deborah Poff, concerning the unauthorized access, discovered in mid-October, to the University’s computer network.

What is the Real Story Here?

By Deborah C. Poff

Many years ago when I was a graduate student in Ottawa, I returned home and realized that I had been robbed. I went into the living room and saw that all my cassettes were on the floor around my stereo. I went into the bedroom and saw that all of my underwear was hanging out of the dresser and on the floor. I went from feeling confusion to feeling violated. Some criminal had been in my apartment with his creepy hands all over my stuff and by extension, all over me. The crook took some earrings that my mom had given me and a few other things that had more personal than economic value. I remember telling the police that I had locked my fire escape window and bolted my door. My explanation was a plea for people to understand that it wasn’t my fault. I didn’t ask for this and I didn’t go looking for it. I tried to lock bad people out but someone had gotten in just the same.

I have been thinking this way this week because a criminal accessed a server at Brandon University last week. Essentially the crook found a hole in a data base and went in and looked around. We have a very experienced computer system company that does this for a living working for us, checking out our entire system and evaluating how the event occurred. We are trying to make sure that we are as secure as a computer system as we can be.

As I have talked to reporters this week, some seemed to think that the story is about ‘why were you walking home alone?’; ‘did you have your doors locked properly?’, and ‘why did you have data in a data base anyway?’

 I have four university degrees. One of them dates back forty years. I strongly believe that if I call the university from which I received the degree forty years ago today, they will be able to send me the official transcript of my grades. They have held that data in trust for all that time. Periodically over the years, I have asked for transcripts and promptly received copies of it. That same university had a hacker break into their system recently as have many of the universities across this country. I know. I have been talking to them and asking their advice about how to make sure that we protect our data as much as possible.

I am extremely sorry that this has happened. Know that we understand and take seriously the responsibility we bear for the security of our systems. We are doing our best to lock our windows and bolt our doors so that it doesn’t happen again. We want all members of our university community to be safe and secure in all ways. But please, let’s not forget that this was a crime committed against the university.

For more information about the unauthorized access to the University’s network, click here.