03 Oct 2012

TeamGhostShell Behind Massive Academic Hack; Top World Universities See Student Records Leaked


TeamGhostShell, a hacktivist group affiliated to Anonymous, attacked the servers of the top 100 universities of the world and exposed massive amounts of student data, reports The Register.

The operation, dubbed #ProjectWestWind, aims “to raise awareness towards the changes made in today's education, how new laws imposed by politicians affect us, our economy and overall, our way of life”, according to a group message.

TeamGhostShell criticizes learning methods as “simply memorizing large chunks of text in exchange for good grades” and takes a stand against tuition fees. Hacktivists see a huge difference between Europe and the US from this point of view, as the US has seen its costs of education rise “so much that by the time you finish any sort of degree, you will be in more debt than you can handle and with no certainty that you will get a job.”

The Pastebin manifesto also proposes adopting an open-source system for educational literature and promoting “self-teach” rather than relying on educators who are not “enthusiastic.”

On the academic victim list are prestigious institutions such as Harvard, Cambridge and Stanford. Major universities from Japan, Belgium, Italy and Russia have also been hit by ProjectWestWind.

The exposed data contains students’ e-mail addresses and passwords, info on faculty members as well as event schedules and other data that could come in handy for other disruptive projects. It appears this attack has also brought to light evidence of past intrusions into the universities’ systems and of malware inadvertently hosted on their web properties.