From the archives: Computer Theft at Mt. Allison

From the archives brings you old news today. As time passes, the news we report on changes, as does the way we report on it. Conversely, we’ve been covering some of the same issues since 1872. Theft in the community has always been an issue, both on- and off-campus. However, a very new kind of theft became of concern to Mt. A staff in 1980.

Thurs. Nov. 20, 1980: vol. 109, issue 9.

While stealing a computer is an unusual and blatant crime, stealing information from a computer commonly occurs and often goes undetected. Mt. Allison has had a computer installed in the Crabtree Building this last spring. Because the system is new and the programming staff is unfamiliar with it only now are many of the potential loopholes in various aspects of the system being closed.

During the summer many confidential lists had been run on a generally accessible disk memory whose contents were not erased. This leads to the possibility of somebody with a bit of computer knowledge retrieving this information from the disk. Luckily,  a lot of the information in the system consists of material which can be just as easily accessed, if not easier by looking it up in the student directory. Other more sensitive information is stored as a set of numbers and one would have to know which correspond to what to make sense of it.

According to Kevin Tory, at the Computer Centre, no information that would be of any use to anyone has gotten out. By the beginning of this month all sensitive work had been transferred and is now done on a disk whose access is restricted to privileged programmers and whose content is routinely erased. This will ensure that no more information will get out.

Peter Hutten-Czapski