FBI Probes Princeton Hack of Yale Admissions Site
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Adding a new twist to their heated rivalry, Princeton University admissions officials accessed student records from rival Yale University's online admissions system, leading to a Yale complaint to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), according to reports.
The Yale Daily News, the New Haven, Conn., school's undergraduate paper, reported that Yale officials made the FBI complaint Friday over the alleged security breach, in which the admission status of 11 applicants were viewed by Princeton officials by using birth dates and Social Security numbers taken from their Princeton applications.
Princeton confirmed the breach, calling it a "serious lapse in judgment" by the Ivy League school's admissions department.
Yale set up the online system in December, allowing applicants to use their names, dates of birth, and Social Security numbers to determine their admissions status. Only applicants were permitted to access the site, according to its onscreen disclaimer.
After Princeton officials mentioned the security holes to their Yale counterparts at an Ivy League deans' conference, the Yale Daily News reports a Yale investigation found 18 unauthorized log-ins from Princeton computers that accessed 11 students' records. Princeton's admissions department said it was merely testing the security of such an online notification system, although a Yale alleges the officials accessed some records several times.
Princeton could face sanctions under the Family Educational Rights Privacy Act, including the loss of funding, as well as criminal charges.
As a result of the hullabaloo, Princeton hired William Maderer, a partner in a Newark law firm, to conduct an internal investigation. The school said it would cooperate with outside investigations.
"The investigation will attempt to determine exactly what happened, who was involved, and why it took place," Princeton said in a statement. "We are moving to track down which computers were used to access a Web site in the Yale University admissions office and who may have been using those computers."
Princeton also said placed Stephen LeMenager, an associate dean and director of admissions, on administrative leave. LeMenager, who has worked in the admissions department for almost two decades, admitted to the Yale Daily News that he took part in accessing the Web site.
Yale and Princeton have a longstanding rivalry, often battling to attract the top students. The two schools also have the second-longest collegiate football rivalry in the country.