UPDATE: Stanford says its police computers have been ‘secured’ but hackers threaten to release data

The new Stanford Public Safety building, 233 Bonair Siding Road. Photo from the Clark Pacific website.

Daily Post Staff Writer

UPDATE, OCT. 30 — A hacker group has threatened to leak 430 gigabytes of internal data from Stanford police, including private information and confidential documents.

The hacker group, called Akira, said it was responsible for the hack on a dark web forum on Friday.

“Stanford is known for its entrepreneurial character, drawing from the legacy of its founders, Jane and Leland Stanford, and its relationship to Silicon Valley,” the post says. “Soon the university will be also known for 430 GB of internal data leaked online.”

The coming days and weeks will prove if Akira is the true hacker, according to cybersecurity expert Ahmed Banafa, an author and professor at San Jose State University.

Akira’s hackers would release small amounts of information to prove they have it, Banafa said.

The post indicates that Stanford refused to pay a ransom, because hackers don’t usually brag until after they’re rejected, Banafa said. Now Akira is looking for someone to buy personal information, Banafa said.

“It’s clear that Stanford didn’t pay them,” he said.

That means Stanford would have to rebuild its IT systems from the last time they were backed up.

The language of the post, singling out the entrepreneurs at Stanford, could be a warning for famous people who went to the school and don’t want to lose their personal information, Banafa said.

Stanford could get sued by people whose data was compromised, Banafa said.

Akira’s post doesn’t specify what kind of data was compromised from Stanford but asks any interested buyers to send them a message.

The hack was contained to the Stanford Department of Public Safety, according to the university.

Compromised records could include body camera footage, sealed police reports, interview transcripts and personal information like names, birth dates and social security numbers.

FRIDAY, OCT. 27 — Stanford says its police department’s computer systems have been “secured” following an attack from hackers, who appeared to be demanding a ransom and took down the network for at least a month.

The university publicly acknowledged the hack for the first time in a statement Friday (Oct. 27).

“We are continuing to investigate … to determine the extent of what may have been impacted,” the statement said. “The investigation is ongoing and once it is completed, we will act accordingly and be able to share more information with the community.”

The hack was limited to the police and didn’t impact emergency responses, Stanford said. “Outside specialists” have been brought in.

The length of time indicates that Stanford police fell victim to a ransomware attack, according to cybersecurity expert Ahmed Banafa, an author and professor at San Jose State University.

Hackers likely used a fake email to convince an employee to click a link that encrypted the system’s files and applications, Banafa said.

Stanford could either pay a ransom in cryptocurrency or rebuild its IT systems from the last time they were backed up, Banafa said.

Stanford could face lawsuits and damage to its reputation, Banafa said in an interview last week.

For example, someone could sue Stanford if they have sealed arrest records or body camera footage that gets leaked. There’s a lot of important and famous and important people at Stanford who might not want to be exposed, Banafa said.

The Post learned that Stanford’s network was down on Oct. 4 after a reporter went to look at a list of recent crimes, which are usually posted on a computer in the lobby.
A records clerk said that the network had been down for about a week.


  1. I hope they notify whose data was stolen and agree to compensate anyone harmed by that. But, no, they’re Stanford, so that’s not going to happen. I’d be really surprised if they obeyed the law.

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