Yale shames Princeton hacker

August 2, 2002

Yale University is expected to tighten security after a Princeton admissions official hacked into its website to read the files of students who had applied there.

The disclosure was the latest evidence of the increasing competition between America's best schools for high-achieving students. Shirley Tilghman, president of Princeton University, issued a public apology this week: "I deeply regret the enormous strain that these events have caused, first and foremost to the students whose rights were violated." President Tilghman said she had apologised to her counterpart at Yale, and was contacting the students whose confidential information was accessed, including President George W. Bush's niece, Lauren. She said Princeton also would apologise to them.

Princeton admissions director Stephen LeMenager was suspended after admitting he had broken into the Yale applicants' files. Yale has asked federal prosecutors to determine whether any laws were broken.

Mr LeMenager used applicants' names, birthdates and social security numbers to gain access to their files on the Yale website. Yale traced the inquiries to the Princeton admissions office, and complained to Princeton.

Mr LeMenager has contended he was simply testing the security of Yale's website. Officials speculate that, in fact, he may have been checking to see if students who had also applied to Princeton were accepted into Yale - information that would help him decide how much financial aid and other inducements to offer them.

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