Stanford public safety department hacked, networks temporarily down

Oct. 26, 2023, 2:49 a.m.

Hackers breached the Stanford University Department of Public Safety’s (SUDPS) firewall, potentially compromising their network and data earlier this month.

Although the extent of the breach is unclear, University spokesperson Dee Mostofi wrote in a statement to The Daily that based on the University’s investigation, “to date, there is no indication that the incident affected any other part of the University.”

In response to questions about further security concerns of the hack, the University wrote that, “The incident at SUDPS has been contained.” Systems appear to be functioning properly now.

This breach is the third to happen at Stanford this year, with a system error in February and data leaks caused by third party software in April. Both incidents impacted the privacy of individuals in the community, though it is unclear whether the breach currently under investigation is of a similar nature to previous cases.

SUDPS confirmed on Oct. 10 that an investigation regarding the hack was underway. 

“Police response to emergency calls has not been impacted, and all other calls have continued normally,” SUDPS spokesperson Bill Larson wrote in a statement to The Daily. 

Cybercrime is on the rise globally, with a recent breach at the University of Michigan forcing the entire university to halt its functions. According to a 2022 Verizon report, 95% of cybersecurity incidents in the education space involved a financial motive. 

Almost one month after the breach initially took place, community members still have no further information about what, if any, data and processes were compromised. The Daily has reached out to SUDPS for comment on whether impacted parties are being intimated in a timely and responsible manner.

SUDPS declined to answer further questions, but said that the investigation was “still very active” and that no additional information was released so as to not jeopardize the process. 

A University official confirmed in response to further concerns on Tuesday that their “privacy and information security teams are giving this matter their concerted attention, in coordination with outside specialists.”

The Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office referred The Daily to SUDPS for comment on the incident and investigation.

This article has been updated to reflect that the hack occurred in the past month.

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