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While a flaw in an online security protocol has threatened the safety of passwords and other sensitive information on the Internet, it should not significantly impact the University, according to Cam Beasley, the University’s chief information security officer.

The flaw, nicknamed the “Heartbleed bug,” affects OpenSSL, which is a secure connection many websites use to communicate sensitive information such as passwords and credit card numbers. The flaw is believed to have been written by a German programmer in March 2012 and was discovered by researchers from Finland and from Google.

Dubbed one of the biggest Internet security flaws in history, Bloomberg reported the bug affects over two-thirds of all Internet websites. The bug could also affects smartphones, routers and other systems that employ OpenSSL.

Beasley said Heartbleed’s impact on the University is minimal, though he did confirm OpenSSL is used in UT information systems.

“[There is] no real risk to students using central IT services, but it is possible that various Internet services they use could have experienced some exposure depending on if they were vulnerable and how long they took to patch systems,” Beasley said. “Several systems were patched once the update became available, but no critical services were exposed.” 

Classical archaeology senior Beth Rozacky said, though the flaw is worrying for some people, she feels the information that could be potentially leaked is already more available to hackers than most people realize.

“My personal information is already out there because of the organizations I’m in, so, if someone wanted to find something, it would be pretty easy,” Rozacky said.

On Friday, the Obama administration denied that the National Security Agency, or other parts of the federal government, had known about the Heartbleed bug after Bloomberg reported the NSA had been withholding information about the flaw in order to pool valuable data for themselves.

“[The] NSA was not aware of the recently identified vulnerability in OpenSSL — the so-called Heartbleed vulnerability — until it was made public in a private-sector cybersecurity report,” said NSA spokeswoman Vanee Vines in a statement issued Friday.

Security researchers said the bug allows for data to be accessed in increments of only 64 kilobytes, making it less ideal for wide-scale espionage.

Engineering assistant professor Mohit Tiwari said the harm caused by the bug is apparent but difficult to assess.

“The Heartbleed bug does indeed have very bad consequences for systems that used the buggy version of OpenSSL,” Tiwari said. “There is really no way, however, to measure the extent of the damage since most system logs will have no record of this bug being exploited.”

Tiwari and Beasley both recommended students change their passwords frequently regardless of the risk posed by the bug. According to Tiwari, research into automatically analyzing large systems for such bugs should receive a big boost due to the bug’s discovery. Rozacky said she hopes the research will provide more information for the public.

“I think people should have been aware of the dangers of hacking before things like Heartbleed happened,” Rozacky said.

McCombs' MBA program ranks 19 in annual survey

Bloomberg Businessweek ranked McComb’s School of Business’ MBA program 19 in its annual survey “best business schools”, a six rank increase since its previous rank of 25 in 2010.

According to Bloomberg Businessweek, student and corporate recruiter service were the determining factors in ranking McCombs’ MBA program.  MBA graduates across the nation completed surveys, ranking schools based on teaching quality, career services, critical thinking, leadership skills and caliber of classmates.

McCombs’ MBA program received an overall student survey rank of 28 and an employer survey rank of 15. It received an A in the categories of career services, leadership skills and caliber of classmates.

 

A firefighter surveys the smoldering ruins of a house in the Breezy Point section of New York, Tuesday. More than 50 homes were destroyed in a fire that swept through the oceanfront community during Super-storm Sandy.

Photo Credit: The Associated Press

NEW YORK — Stripped of its bustle and mostly cut off from the world, New York was left wondering Tuesday when its particular way of life — carried by subway, lit by skyline and powered by 24-hour deli — would return.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the power company said it could be several days before the lights come on for hundreds of thousands of people plunged into darkness by what was once Hurricane Sandy.

And Bloomberg said it could be four or five days before the subway, which suffered the worst damage in its 108-year history, is running again. All 10 of the tunnels that carry New Yorkers under the East River were flooded.

Sandy killed 10 people in New York City. The dead included two who drowned in a home and one who was in bed when a tree fell on an apartment, the mayor said. A 23-year-old woman died after stepping into a puddle near a live electrical wire.

“This was a devastating storm, maybe the worst that we have ever experienced,” Bloomberg said.

For the 8 million people who live here, the city was a different place one day after the storm.

In normal times, rituals bring a sense of order to the chaos of life in the nation’s largest city: Stop at Starbucks on the morning walk with the dog, drop the kids off at P.S. 39, grab a bagel.

On Tuesday, those rituals were suspended, with little indication when they would come back. Schools were shut for a second day and were closed Wednesday, too.

Some bridges into the city reopened at midday, but service on the three commuter railroads that run between the city and its suburbs was still suspended.

The New York Stock Exchange was closed for a second day, the first time that has happened because of weather since the 19th century, but said it would reopen on Wednesday.

Swaths of the city were not so lucky. Consolidated Edison, the power company, said it would be four days before the last of the 337,000 customers in Manhattan and Brooklyn who lost power have electricity again.

For the Bronx, Queens, Staten Island and Westchester County, with 442,000 outages, it could take a week, Con Ed said. Floodwater led to explosions that disabled a power substation on Monday night, contributing to the outages.

A fire destroyed as many as 100 houses in a flooded beachfront neighborhood in Queens. Firefighters said the water was chest-high on the street and they had to use a boat to make rescues.

The landscape of the city changed in a matter of hours.

The mayor said: “We will get through the days ahead by doing what we always do in tough times — by standing together, shoulder to shoulder, ready to help a neighbor, comfort a stranger and get the city we love back on its feet.”

News Briefly

The McCombs School of Business is the 25th best business school in the U.S., according to a recent ranking by a Bloomberg Businessweek report.

The business school fell four places from 2008, according to Friday’s report. Despite the drop in rank, the school received its highest ranking in student satisfaction in six years, as well as an increase in employer satisfaction.

“We are still improving,” said Stacey Rudnick, the school’s career services director. “You can still have a stronger program even though the rank dropped.”

Recruiters rated graduates of the business school’s analytical and general management skills with an A. The undergraduate school at McCombs will likely make on average $67,000 a year, and graduate business students will make $95,000 a year. According to the report, 93 percent of McCombs graduates are offered a job out of college.

The Booth School of Business at the University of Chicago took the top spot, followed by the Harvard Business School and the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.