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Hackers hindered by OIT's efforts

Hackers hindered by OIT's efforts
Hackers hindered by OIT's efforts 

By Jessica Allen
Staff Writer

The University of Tennessee gets almost half a million attacks from 
hackers in its computer systems each day, according to Brice Bible, the 
Office of Information Technologys chief information officer.

Bible said these hackers occasionally come from all over the world and 
try to get into computer systems at the university and sometimes they 
are successful.

Usually it is not damaging, he said. Once theyve hacked in, we find it, 
stop it (and) close it off.

Bible said security has gained a lot of attention over the last four or 
five years because computer systems at universities continue to become 
faster and have more computing capability.

Its become a big topic because the Internet has become very, very fast 
and universities have very, very fast connections to the Internet, he 

The UT campus used to have between 20 and 30 megabits of Internet 
connection, but Bible said students and faculty now have almost 10 
gigabits, which is equivalent to 10,240 megabits, at their disposal.

The Educause Center for Applied Research reported colleges throughout 
the nation have increased their use of security software and methods to 
protect their confidential electronic data from intruders. UT has 
responded to increased threats in the same manner.

OIT has taken several security measures over the past few years to help 
ensure the protection of the networks and electronic data on campus. 
Bible said another reason for increased security measures is because 
technology experts from around the world have become more sophisticated 
in tracking the movements of hackers.

The hackers are very sophisticated and their tools and abilities change 
every day, so we have to work very hard to stay on top of that, he said. 
(They) have figured out that they can use all this fast Internet and 
resources at locations like universities for bad things, so its become 
important for organizations to try to protect the information and the 
assets they have.

One way OIT sought to protect information was by creating the 
Information Security Office. They staffed the office with a group of 
individuals who devote their time to helping users on campus keep their 
computers safe.

The Head of the Information Security Office, Robert Ridenour, said they 
were trying to be proactive and look for new ways to protect online 

It is impossible to predict the next big threat, so we focus a lot of 
our attention on protections, Ridenour said.

Numerous protection devices, such as firewalls and patches, have been 
purchased for this reason. The office has also invested in intrusion 
prevention systems that can detect if something out of the ordinary is 
occurring and stop it immediately.

The purchase of protection software, however, is not new for the 

What is new for the university is an aggressive campaign to find the 
confidential information, even down to the department level, and help 
university personnel protect it, Ridenour said.

He said OIT, along with information technology personnel from other 
colleges in Tennessee, is developing policies and procedures to help 
students, faculty and staff understand what they need to do to protect 
their information.

We are trying to educate the users regarding safe practices, he said.

The group is also working to isolate and eliminate the use of sensitive 

While OIT has taken steps to make the networks more secure, it is also 
up to the students, faculty and staff at the university to protect their 

Ridenour and Bible said members of the university community should make 
sure their computers are patched, they are running their anti-virus 
software, their personal firewall is activated and they are not sharing 
their passwords.

Bible also encouraged suspicion of received e-mails.

OIT personnel are always around to help, so if you have an e-mail that 
you believe to be threatening, you can send it to and they 
will look into it, he said. Dont just ignore it. If you think its really 
something abusive, then send it to us because it might protect somebody 

For more information on protecting computers, visit 

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