Ex-student charged with invading UM’s computer system

Posted Nov. 13, 2008, at 1:54 p.m.
Last modified March 20, 2011, at 6:16 a.m.

ORONO – A former University of Maine student who may have illegally gained access to more than 200 Uni-versity of Maine e-mail accounts was arrested Wednesday afternoon in Lewiston.

James Wieland, 26, was charged with aggravated criminal invasion of computer privacy, a felony under Maine law, said University of Maine spokesman Joe Carr.

So far, according to UMaine director of public safety Noel March, there have been no reports of concerns re-lated to identity theft and police do not know Wieland’s motivation.

UMaine police worked with the school’s Department of Information Technologies, the Maine State Police’s Computer Crimes Task Force, the Lewiston Police Department, and the U.S. Secret Service office in Maine.

Wieland is believed to have sent out e-mails to more than 1,000 UMaine accounts through the university’s FirstClass e-mail system. More than 200 students downloaded a keystroke logging program delivered as an at-tached file which appeared to come from a sender known to the recipient.

Once the user downloaded the file, his or her activities became visible to Wieland, according to the police ac-count. Police believe this is how he gained access to an increasing number of accounts and was able to expand the number of addresses from which he could send messages.

So far, most of the affected e-mail addresses belong to students, not faculty or staff.

Investigators believe Wieland started this activity around August 2007 and possible before then, and it contin-ued until this week. Wieland studied business at the University of Maine from fall 2000 to this past spring.

The university sent an e-mail message late Wednesday to those believed to be affected by the computer pro-gram. A separate message about the situation went out to the entire UMaine community.

The University of Maine IT department is working with those affected to eliminate the program from their computers. If you suspect your computer has been infected, go to http://itinfo.umaine.edu to run a detection tool and removal software.

Call the IT help line at 581-2506 for more information. Those who are concerned they have been affected can also call the office of Robert Dana, vice president for student affairs and dean of students, at 581-4016.

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