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Moodle Hacked at Oregon College

Umpqua Community College in Winchester, OR announced in February that its Moodle course management system had been hacked earlier in the year, potentially exposing student information. According to a statement from the college, there was no evidence that personal records had been affected. The school also noted that the IT department knew how the system had been compromised and had taken steps to address the security vulnerabilities, which included shutting Moodle down temporarily.

Now all users of the college's applications--which include Angel LMS from Angel Learning, Banner from Sungard Higher Education, and the school's portal--must also set up new PINs to prevent the misuse of any data collected during the Moodle breach.

According to an article in The News-Review, a Winchester newspaper, the college became aware of the breach when the system slowed down. An IT investigation uncovered a message from the hacker that had been planted in the system. That same examination revealed that user account information--including names, passwords, and demographic details--had been stored in the software.

The campus had been a long-time user of the open source application, which was being supported by an external service provider. On the Moodle system, students received assignments, completed and turned in course work, and communicated with their instructors.

The school had migrated to Angel in 2007 but implemented Moodle internally at the same time in order to support its nursing program, which wasn't ready to move to a new platform. It was that installation that had been run without safeguards and that lacked a critical security patch, according to The News-Review.

Other instructors outside of nursing were also continuing with their use of Moodle. When IT shut down the internal deployment of Moodle, several professors said they'd be willing to cover the expense of moving the installation to an outside firm that could host the software. The college chose to pay for a similar hosting service but has assigned a task force to decide whether Moodle will continue being used in the future.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning. She can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @schaffhauser.

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