RealNews

Hacker Claim Doesn't Rattle Va. Campuses

The ease with which a computer hacker said he could exploit a campus identification and debit card system operated by more than 220 colleges nationwide has aroused little concern from local schools because his intrusions involved vandalism more than outright theft. Billy Hoffman, a 22-year-old computer engineering major at Georgia Tech, in Atlanta, used a screwdriver and a laptop to break into cables that connect that university’s Buzzcard debit system to washers, dryers, and soda machines. The Buzzcard, a Blackboard Inc. system, allows students to create debit accounts on their university ID cards, which can be used to gain access to buildings, as well as purchase snacks, supplies and services. While only two universities in Virginia use the Blackboard system that was compromised, others offer programs with comparable technology. Those using Blackboard said they are unconcerned because of the nature of the attacks that Hoffman planned to detail at a recent hacker conference. “It was a physical hack more than a technological hack,” said Mark Gettys, the assistant director of auxiliary services at the College of William and Mary, which began using Blackboard’s system in 1996. The college now generates more than $200,000 each year in off campus sales. Full Story

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