Hackers attack Delta staff mail server


Providing WiFi around campus for students, installing the latest computers, fighting off mail server hackers from around the world – the Information Technology (IT) department does it all to keep the network up and running.

IT at Delta College is a never-ending process of keeping the network and equipment updated. With more than 3,000 computers on campus,

IT aims to refresh computers every five years by replacing about 600 computers a year.

The department thinks of it the same way a student would update an iPhone every one-two years. “Cost is a factor, there is never enough money to keep up because technology is moving so fast and changing so quickly,” said William Deater.

Assistant Director of Information Technology. Three to five years is a normal life span of a server. Delta has some servers that are ten years old.

“Ten years is a lifetime in IT,” said Deater.

One result of having older servers was the hacking of the Delta staff mail server on Nov. 20.

The attack came from a multitude of different locations around the world, including Nigeria, Belgium, Great Britain, Russia, China and Korea.

The IT department says the hackers were sending out phishing e-mails to the staff.

Phishing is the act of masquerading as a commercial company and gaining access to account holder’s information such as passwords or bank account, credit card and Social Security numbers.

The hack was immediately noticed and addressed.

The following Monday, “the attack resumed and it took us through the end of the day to move the server and stop the attack,” Deater, said the move was completed around 5 p.m.

There are over 1,800 staff mail accounts.

All were moved to a newer network where other important information such as payroll and student records are stored.

“Our main goal now is to get the last of the old network servers moved over the new networks,” said Deater.

By April 2016, the target is to get the 65,000 to 80,000 student mail accounts onto the new server. The old servers relate to the first 4GB iPhone. When the iPhone first launched in 2007, 4GB model was plenty of storage.

With more usage of the device, consumers needed more storage. Now we have 64GB devices, along with new networks on the Delta campus that store a minimum of 100MB and up to 1GB.

There are 12 physical servers in the IT department with about 300 virtual servers.

Delta’s IT facility also stores 85 percent of San Jose State University’s storage, which is leased.

Registration for classes is when the network goes through the roof. IT schedules outages during registration at night to refresh the system and make necessary updates.

“People expect all systems to run 24/7. With a school our size, we would need a mirror redundant program to do that. Instead, we schedule maintenance times around the school’s schedule. We are here to support you guys,” said Deater.