Friday, September 30, 2011

Finally, Someone Did It Right!

Monday morning, Sept. 26 someone or some group calling itself the “Syrian Electronic Army” hacked its way into the Harvard University home page, posting a picture of Syria’s president and a message that said,   “SyRiAn eLeCTronic ArMy WeRe HeRE.”

“This site has been breached to spread our message even if illegally,” the hacker added. There was more, but you get the picture.
Hardly a week goes by that some institution or organization doesn’t make headlines because of an intrusion into their website.  And there’s no way of knowing how many hacks go unreported.

Some just fix it and never say anything, others over-react, but the leadership at Harvard reacted about as well as any responsible decision maker could.
They acted quickly and said, “The University’s home page was compromised by an outside party this morning.  We took down the site for several hours in order to restore it.  The attack appears to have been the work of a sophisticated individual or group.”

The secret to their public response was acknowledging it happened, but not responding in any way to create more conflict, or give the perpetrator credit by name.   Hacks are usually done for one or two reasons – just to be disruptive, or to get broader attention for their cause.

Harvard didn’t let the disruption last long, and did not sucker into a public debate about the hacker’s “cause.”