Advisor Fired After Student Disclosed Security Breach to Campus Paper

Published: October 13, 2007

MONMOUTH, Ore. – Western Oregon University (WOU) officials dismissed the advisor of the school’s newspaper after a student offered the data he accidentally found containing personal information to the newspaper, news reports state.

Sept. 28, WOU student Brian Loving faced a disciplinary hearing over the files he inadvertently obtained in June. The files contained information on 50 to 100 students, which included Social Security numbers and grade point averages. He obtained the information from the publicly accessible university server.

He then downloaded a copy and provided it to the campus paper the Western Oregon Journal.

After informing the university of the security breach, Loving and the newspaper editor decided to publish a four-page report documenting what Loving had found even though the last publication of the campus paper had already been published. The names on the list were not published in the article.

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The publication prompted an investigation within the school. IT staffers were also sent to make sure that copies of the file were not stored in the newspaper’s computer system.

While officials state that Loving was not expelled, the university decided not to renew Susan Wickstrom’s, the newspaper’s advisor, contract.

University sources state that Wickstrom’s contract was not renewed because she failed to advise students of WOU’s computer use policy and did not inform students about making copies of the exposed file.

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