UNLV Servers Hit by Hack, Could Have Taken Records of Thousands

LAS VEGAS (AP) - A hacker has infiltrated a UNLV computer server containing records for thousands of international students, university officials said.

Computer analysts at University of Nevada, Las Vegas were conducting a routine security check on network activity when they found a hacker accessing the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System, also known as SEVIS, officials said Friday.

"We caught him in the middle of it and took the server off-line, so we're not sure if he got much," said Johnie Sullivan, UNLV information security officer and a former FBI computer security specialist.

University officials declined to say when the incident occurred, but said the hacker could have accessed the records of as many as 5,000 former and current UNLV international students. The FBI is investigating the incident.

Computer analysts have determined the hacker is not a university student or employee. Sullivan said this is the first major hack UNLV has experienced on a student data server.

Authorities are treating the incident as a possible identity theft case, Sullivan said. The university has sent an e-mail to all students listed in the database notifying them of the security breach and referring them to identity theft protection Web sites.

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services uses SEVIS, an Internet-based system, to maintain current information on nonimmigrant students, exchange visitors and their dependents.

The program, which is part of the Department of Homeland Security, tracks information such as foreign student enrollments, visa status, course load, address and name changes, and off-campus employment.

After Sept. 11, 2001, universities, colleges and flight schools have been required to use SEVIS to help prevent terrorists from entering the country as students.