Inviting hackers to infiltrate a computer on the University of Wisconsin network might leave a Department of Information Technology employee subject to disciplinary action.
Responding to a publicized test where a computer hacker gained access to a Macintosh operating system in under 30 minutes, DoIT Technical Service Specialist Dave Schroeder challenged hackers to infiltrate a computer he secured using Mac OS X and had put on the UW network.
However, neither DoIT nor UW sanctioned the test and university officials shut it down prematurely.
And within the 38 total hours that the test ran, no successful attempts to hack into the host were reported or claimed by potential hackers.
According to DoIT Senior Administrative Programming Specialist Brian Rust, however, there will "probably be some" disciplinary action taken against Schroeder.
"Inviting people to try to break into a computer on the network creates problems way more serious than you expect," Rust said, adding Schroeder did not have approval to run the test using the UW network.
Rust warned that once a hacker is able to infiltrate a computer on the network, it leaves the system more vulnerable to a disruption.
However, Rust emphasized that no UW systems were compromised during the test, saying traffic on the network remained manageable.
Internet security expert and UW computer science assistant professor Paul Barford also criticized the test, and said it is never a good idea to draw the attention of hackers to a computer network.
Calling it a case of "letting sleeping dogs lie," Barford said sophisticated hackers, fully capable of infiltrating the system, might now consider the UW network a potential target, while it might have remained an anonymous one before Schroeder's challenge.
"There are bad guys, especially sophisticated, who have a lot of options to who to pay attention to," Barford said. "You don't want bad people to pay attention to Wisconsin."
Barford added that just because there were no successful attempts over the 38-hour test period does not mean there would not be one in the future.
Noting that the more malicious, sophisticated computer hackers might wait until there is less attention placed on the UW network before trying to infiltrate it, Barford said he would not be surprised if hackers tried to infiltrate the UW network in the future.
"Everybody was watching," Barford said. "[Hackers] don't typically go after what everybody's watching."