Hackers Roil Admissions Offices

Grinnell Admissions, Oberlin Admissions, Hamilton Admissions
The admissions offices at Hamilton, Grinnell, and Oberlin were the targets of hackers in recent days.

Some applicants to Grinnell College and Hamilton College recently received cryptic messages that read, “You are now presented with a unique opportunity to purchase your entire admissions file.” Of course, it wasn’t the admissions office that sent this message as selling admissions files isn’t exactly a revenue stream for any college admissions office. Rather, the files were hacked and applicant personal information was being held for ransom; the hackers offered $3,900 or one Bitcoin in exchange for a student’s application file complete with comments from admissions officers.

Grinnell, Hamilton, Oberlin Admissions Files Hacked

As reports Eric Hoover for “Inside Higher Education” in a piece entitled “Hackers Broke Into Admissions Databases at 3 Colleges — and Then Offered to Sell Applicants Their Files,” “Other applicants to Grinnell, as well as to Hamilton College, received the same message, though it wasn’t immediately clear how many. In a tweet on Thursday, Grinnell said it had learned that ‘some’ prospective students had received the offer. The college urged recipients not to respond to the message, and said that it had contacted the Federal Bureau of Investigation.” “The Wall Street Journal” reports that a third school impacted by the hack — in addition to Grinnell and Hamilton — was Oberlin College.

Apparently, these schools use a software program called Slate to store and track applicant information. Slate seems to have allowed them entry into their systems — at least according to the hackers themselves who wrote rather ominously, “Let this message serve proof that Slate has indeed been breached.” We’ll be sure to update our readers with any developments in this brewing admissions saga going forward.

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