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Haryana

Hackers gain access to question bank, central varsity cancels exams

July 11, 2020 06:50 AM

COURTESY HT JULY 11

Hackers gain access to question bank, central varsity cancels exams
CYBER CRIME : Bathinda university conducted 13 exams from July 6-8; teachers told to prepare new question papers
Vishal Joshi

vishal.joshi@htlive.com

Bathinda : Central University of Punjab (CUP), Bathinda, has cancelled 13 exams held from July 6-8 after it found that its question bank had been hacked.

Vice-chancellor RK Kohli said on Friday that the system was found compromised on Wednesday and all 13 exams conducted from July 6-8 were cancelled. “Teachers have been asked to prepare question papers for all subjects and new dates of tests will be announced soon,” he said.

Kohli said the matter came to light after a few faculty members and his office received an email from an unknown person, claiming that the question bank had been hacked. “The email was sent from ProtonMail, an end-to-end encrypted and paid email service, where a link was given. Clicking on it gives access to all questions. It is a serious matter and a police complaint was lodged on Thursday,” the vice-chancellor said.

According to police sources, ProtonMail is a highly sophisticated cyber platform where it is difficult to identify the email sender.

In view of the Covid-19 outbreak, the university had decided to conduct examinations online where only the schedule was released and students had the flexibility to choose dates to write their tests while sitting at home.

ONLINE MODE ADOPTED DUE TO PANDEMIC

University sources said the unidentified email sender had stated that the “online examination application (developed by CUP) is faulty and a number of students were unable to sit for the test”. Registrar Kanwar Pal Singh Mundra said the online mode of examination was optional for students. Out of 483 students, only one was absent from the online examination, he added.

He stated that a mock test was successful twice where the students also participated. Mundra, who holds the dual charge of the controller of examination said, the university did not receive any complaint from students against conducting online examinations.

Previously, the exams were conducted on the campus by using intranet. To facilitate students during the pandemic, this year the online mode was adopted by the CUP.

The university administration said two mock exams were conducted successfully to check firewall efficiency.

The vice-chancellor said that to upload question papers, online access to the question bank was given to teachers. The system was password-enabled but it was compromised at some unknown level, he added.

10 STUDENTS FROM ONE STATE SCORED EXCEPTIONALLY WELL

Interestingly, the university administration has zeroed down on a group of 8-10 students from a particular state who secured exceptionally well in the semester tests conducted on the first three days. “It was found that these students had average marks in the previous semesters but in this session of online exams, they scored more than 92%, much higher than other students. We have shared these details with the police for cyber scrutiny of the matter,” Kohli said. Deputy superintendent of police (DSP) Aswant Dhaliwal, the investigating officer, said the police are probing the matter from all angles and are checking if the hacker is associated with the university or a trained individual or a part of a team behind the crime

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