Admissions Website Vandalized By Hacker During Prefrosh Weekend

Pre-frosh weekend is most likely the time of the year when the website of the Office of Admissions and Financial Aid sees its heaviest traffic—and a highly inconvenient time for the site to fall prey to the work of a hacker.

On Friday, a message with the words, “Q vergonha, defaced by USDL, Harvard sux...” appeared on the website that normally displays the home page for the admissions office.

Director of Admissions Marilyn McGrath-Lewis ’70-’73 said the hacker had been identified, but declined to comment on the person’s identity.

“It’s our understanding that the source from which this hacking occurred was one to which several hundred other hacking jobs can be attributed,” McGrath-Lewis said.

She added that the admissions office was not sure whether the website was hacked into from a foreign site, which might have been implied by the hacker’s message.

The website was offline for at least a day before it was reloaded to the web in its original form.

McGrath-Lewis could not say yesterday exactly how long the website was offline.

“We provide a website for quick, easy access to this information. It’s a form of communication that we have found very helpful, and it’s extremely inconvenient when we can’t rely on that,” McGrath-Lewis said.

She said the hacking should serve as a wake-up call for the University.

“We have historically been extremely cautious about building security into any data we care about preserving,” she said.

“And even though this was minor in its extent, it is a reminder we should all be concerned.”

—Staff writer Kate L. Rakoczy can be reached at rakoczy@fas.harvard.edu.