A security breach at Southampton University meant servers there were used to circulate emails around the world, which made threats and claimed to have obtained personal data on the recipients.
The emails, headed Naughty Robot, claimed to have secured phone and credit card numbers and physical addresses of individuals. They purported to emanate from an Internet spider ?that crawls into your server through a tiny hole in the World Wide Web". They also say they exploit a security bug in HTTP and have visited host systems to collect personal, private and sensitive information, warning recipients to cancel credit cards.
A spokesperson for the public affairs office at the University said: ?This is someone from Queen?s University Belfast who hacked into our archaeology section. It?s obviously from someone able to hack into computers but there?s a bit of difference between hacking into an open system like a university?s compared to a bank.?
The Web master at Southampton said: ?We know it [Naughty Robot] came through a departmental machine at our university using a loophole in our old software. It did not originate from Southampton.?
He advised anyone else who received the email to ignore it. ?99.9 per cent of stuff like that is totally meaningless,? he said. ?People who do this kind of a thing are a virus of a kind. They waste mine and other system administrators? time. It?s the first time we think this has happened through Southampton.?
He said that, while it was theoretically possible for an experienced hacker to access bank accounts and the like, this type of message had appeared on other systems before and was a spoof.
No-one at Queen?s University was available for comment.
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