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Website experiences several security breaches

Originally published on Aug. 27, 2011

On July 11, the University of Ottawa’s whistle-blower blog (UOLeaks.ca) reported a security breach on the Student Federation of the University of Ottawa’s (SFUO) website. Initially only affecting the constitution page of the site, hackers soon took over the welcome page as well.

“We managed to [catch] it as soon as it happened,” said Paige Galette, the SFUO’s vp communications, about the situation.

The first security breach linked the SFUO’s constitution to Rick Astley’s “Never Gonna Give You Up”. It caused a stir among the U of O community. Some were confused over the source of the problem — was the SFUO playing a prank or did its website get hacked?

Rick Astley. Image: Collider

“I was just translating [a] motion for the Board of Administration and I needed to take a look at the constitution for my translation, so I went on the website,” said SFUO translator Kim St-Cyr in an interview with the Fulcrum.

“So, I clicked it, but I ended up on that Rickroll site … It was really unprofessional. I thought, you know, maybe they were working on [the website] and they put it up as a joke. I really [had] no idea why that was there.”

The second security breach changed the background of the website’s welcome page to a popular Internet meme. The phrase “All your base are belong to LulzSec” accompanied Nyan Cat on the front page.

The front page of the SFUO website featured the Nyan cat and Lulzsec’s signature meme character. Image: Jane Lytvynenko/Fulcrum

The hacker group known as LulzSec, famous for bringing down the PlayStation Network, broke up earlier this year.

“It’s obviously a very complicated case. It’s not like somebody took away my chocolate and I want it back,” said Galette regarding the situation.

Although the SFUO does not know who is responsible for the security breach, its website is repaired and back online after being taken down for maintenance. Galette said the SFUO will be updating the site to ensure this doesn’t happen again.

“We are renewing the old website,” said Galette. The site will feature new widgets, updated descriptions, and an events calendar.

Fun facts about this article

  • Jane Lytvynenko now reports on online disinformation for Buzzfeed News.
  • Hacker group Lulzsec claimed responsibility for taking down the CIA website.
  • The Student Federation of the University of Ottawa (SFUO) was the U of O’s previous undergraduate student union. It was replaced by the University of Ottawa Students’ Union following a referendum in 2019.
  • In June 2019 the Fulcrum’s website was also hacked.
  • UOLeaks.ca was a student-run website that leaked SFUO info and criticized the union.