Unauthorized access into Brandon University’s network last year was a “wake-up call,” according to BU president and vice-chancellor Deborah Poff.
“It was a worrisome event,” Poff said. “It’s out of your control, but what you can control is making your system as secure as you can.”
Last year, someone breached the BU network and provided proof of their access to university authorities on Oct. 14. The university immediately shut down access to much of its network, but was criticized for waiting several days before informing students.
The hacker had access to at least one server where some student data was stored, which has since been shut down, Poff said.
The university has said some of the data was comprised of student application records from 2004-09, which were being used to test a new online application service. At least some student data — including names, addresses and social insurance numbers — were accessed.
Poff said within three weeks BU had the system back up and running and letters were sent to anyone possibly connected to the data.
Since the incident, Poff said a committee comprising of representatives from various departments has been formed to review all of the university’s policies and records to ensure they are up to date. The internal review is still in progress, she said.
“Every university has to deal with this so we’re going through every policy and any gaps in policy,” she said. “That will be our final closure of this particular matter.”
The university has also started looking for a replacement after Poff announced last summer she will not seek renewal for a second term as president.
Poff was appointed in January 2009 to serve a five-year term, and will stay on until July 31, which gives the board of governors time to find a replacement.
Before her final days at BU come to an end, Poff said she hopes to do some more fundraising for the university and see the non-profit mature student housing project move forward.
After being an administrator for more than 30 years, Poff said she’s looking forward to future endeavours.
“This is a wonderful university and it’s been a real joy to work here but I’m kind of looking forward to the next stage in my life,” she said.
Poff said once the university selects a replacement, she will be happy to meet with them.
“I would be delighted to do anything I could to support that person.”