UNSW staff had to scramble to contain an embarrassing outbreak of undergraduate humour, after the university’s Facebook page was hacked on its annual open day.
As the university prepared to showcase its faculties and grounds to thousands of potential students, its Facebook page was infiltrated by images of scantily clad women, cleavages and bare backsides, causing concern among some students and ROFLing (rolling on the floor laughing) among others:
All avenues were tried internally to regain access to the site, but administrators had been locked out altogether
One visitor speculated that the intern had been handed the keys to the Facebook account, while another announced the UNSW staff must be drunk.
UNSW said it discovered early on Saturday morning that its page had been hacked and tried for more than three hours to contact administrators in Australia and internationally.
“All avenues were tried internally to regain access to the site, but administrators had been locked out altogether,” a spokeswoman said.
“At 10.26am we finally received a response from Facebook Support assuring us the case was a high priority,” she said. “We have not been contacted since but we have managed to regain access to the site through other means and all inappropriate posts have been removed. We are awaiting a follow-up email from Facebook support.”
“The University is concerned about the impact this has had on the UNSW community and will be working to determine the source of the breach,” said the spokeswoman who added NSW Police had been contacted.
While the prank may have disgusted a minority of visitors to the site – “I have reported UNSW to the AFP … This behaviour is totally unacceptable” one user complained – it may not be all bad news for the university’s marketing team.
Some of the images posted by hackers had attracted close to 800 likes, while only two people had liked the post proclaiming that the open day had begun.
Said one visitor: “It’s official. UNSW is the best uni.”
Hacklabs director Chris Gatford said there were two possible scenarios behind the attack: “One is that the person who had the credentials was tricked into providing them…via a phishing email for example. Or, rather plainly, they have guessed the username and password barrier.”
While UNSW might be feeling “embarrassed” by the attack, Mr Gatford described it as “minor” when compared to the cyber attacks that regularly occur at universities across Australia.
“They are an open learning environment, they have lots of systems and many of them tend not to be managed by IT, they are managed by the faculties.”
He added: “There is not a week that goes by when you don’t see a compromised university system being listed on one of the hacker farms. On this occasion, let’s be grateful it is just boobs on a Facebook page and not student data.”