Hacktivist campaign targets universities

The group published the email addresses, passwords, IDs and names of what it said are more than 120,000 students and faculty from 100 universities, including top-tier institutions like Johns Hopkins, Cambridge, and Princeton.

The collective posted a manifesto for what it calls “Project WestWind” on Pastebin: “We have set out to raise awareness towards the changes made in today's education, how new laws imposed by politicians affect us, our economy and overall, our way of life.”

It’s unclear how the hack and information release furthers its goal of supporting students, but leader DeadMellox said that the goal is not to impose its own agenda, noting that the group is looking for an “open debate” where the subject of "today's education" is part of day-to-day conversations with family and friends: “How it works, how a certain type of diploma can or cannot help you in your road to the career you want to pursue.”

Team GhostShell has taken some cues from the Occupy Wall Street movement, protesting what it sees as repressive policies perpetrated by those in power that affect the 99%. In August, it boasted that it had breached more than one million user records from 100 corporate and public affairs websites across a variety of industry segments, and leaked them online. Part of its ongoing Project Hellfire campaign, the group said that this latest offensive is the "final form of protest this summer against the banks, politicians and for all the fallen hackers this year."

Now, the group apparently wants to tie its latest exploit to a defiance of the “teaching to the test” education approach. “How far we have ventured from learning valuable skills that would normally help us be prepared in life, to just, simply memorizing large chunks of text in exchange for good grades,” it said, adding that it wants to point out “how our very own traditions are heard less and less, losing touch with who we truly are. Slowly casting the identities that our ancestors fought to protect, into exile.”

The group made it clear that its dissatisfaction is global in nature: “We wanted to bring to your attention different examples from Europe, how the laws change so often that even the teachers have a hard time adjusting to them, let alone, the students, to the US, where tuition fees have spiked up so much that by the time you finish any sort of degree, you will be in more debt than you can handle and with no certainty that you will get a job, to Asia, where strict & limited [sic] teachings still persist and never seem to catch up with the times and most of the time fail to prep you up for a world where foreign affairs are crucial in this day and age.”

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