It seems hackers broke into three college databases and tried to sell the application feedback to the applicants. The three colleges were Grinnell, Hamilton and Oberlin. Furthermore, the main commonality appears to be that all three liberal arts colleges use a software system called Slate. (Over 800 colleges use Slate. So let’s not make rush judgments about Slate just yet!)
Interestingly, the hackers originally asked for one bitcoin (about $3,900) to share the files. Fortunately, there were no takers. Consequently, the hackers dropped their fee all they way to $60 of bitcoin.
We encourage our readers to never pay these types of hackers. Firstly, paying hackers only encourages more hacking. You might even find yourself blackmailed by the hackers. Why? Because, secondly, what if the school found out you paid for proprietary information? We’re not legal experts, but we imagine any offers could be rescinded.
Currently, the FBI is investigating. We certainly hope they identify and arrest the culprits. Finally, we expect security over admissions files to be further tightened.