LINCOLN — A former computer science and math major at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln now faces a federal computer hacking charge from last spring's breach of a key computer system serving both NU and the state college system.
Daniel Stratman, 22, of Omaha, has been charged in U.S. District Court with intentionally accessing a protected computer system and causing damage of at least $5,000. The felony carries a maximum penalty of up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
University officials have described the breach as a “deliberate attack on our system.” NU computer personnel went to work to close the breach, identify the culprit and alert those whose information might have been compromised immediately after a technician in May discovered the intrusion into the Nebraska Student Information System.
The university uses the system to manage nearly every aspect of the student experience, including admissions, housing and registration. It contains records for thousands of students and alumni dating back to 1985, including Social Security numbers and financial data for some.
Stratman's computer was seized by UNL Police on May 25.
No instances of financial fraud or identify theft have been traced to the breach, NU spokeswoman Melissa Lee said Tuesday.
In the wake of the breach, NU officials set up a toll-free call center and a website to answer questions from those concerned that their information might have been compromised. The website received 20,000 visits, and more than 650 people called the toll-free number.
U.S. Magistrate Cheryl Zwart scheduled Stratman to appear for arraignment Jan. 8 in U.S. District Court in Lincoln.
He remains free without bail under the supervision of the federal probation officers. However, he is required to keep a log of his computer usage and to allow probation officers to conduct surprise inspections of his computer equipment.
In court, Stratman's attorney, Bob Creager of Lincoln, said Stratman no longer has a computer of his own his machine remains in the possession of law enforcement. However, there is a shared computer in his home that he is permitted to use.
Lee said Stratman was no longer a UNL student. He was listed as a senior math major during the spring semester, she said. Online UNL information indicated that Stratman had been a student in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering.
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