Thursday, February 12, 2009

Man Confesses to Sending Text Message on UFL System

Via University of Florida News (Jan 21, 2009) -

University of Florida police say a former Mobile Campus employee confessed Wednesday night to sending the cryptic “monkey” text message that thousands of UF students and employees received a day earlier.

The man’s name is being withheld because he has not been charged. Police say they are working with the State Attorney’s Office and expect to file charges as early as Thursday. The man could be charged under a state law that prohibits using someone else’s computer network without authorization, UPD Lt. Darren Baxley said. That crime is a third-degree felony.

The text message, which was sent about 8:45 p.m. Tuesday, read, “The monkey got out of the cage.” Some students speculated that the message was a reference to the inauguration of President Barack Obama, which took place earlier Tuesday.

However, Baxley said the man told investigators the message was in no way meant to be racial in nature. In fact, Baxley said, the man told investigators he is an Obama supporter and voted for Obama in the November election. The man said he was “showing off” to two friends that he still had access to the Mobile Campus text messaging system and did not mean to send the message he had typed, Baxley said.

Why the man still was able to send a message as a former employee remained unclear, Baxley said.

In en e-mail sent Wednesday afternoon to students, police Chief Linda Stump made clear that the message was not authorized by UF nor by Mobile Campus or Acceleration, the companies that provide the university’s text messaging service.


Originally, I read about this story but didn't have time to post about it.

However, recently I was sent a note about this case from Erich of Erich is an Alumni Fellow at the University of Florida, so he personally received this strange text message that evening.

Unofficially, I suspect this is a simple (and luckily harmless) example of a very serious security issue - excessive privilege. In access control terms, this means a person or group has access to a system or groups of system which is not required....

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