Emory University Windows Network Wiped Out! Blame EMP’s, Cyberwar, Squirrels? Try Accidental Reformat.

Danbo (heart) Windows 7

By William Knowles @c4i
Senior Editor
InfoSec News
May 18, 2014

On Monday May 12th 2014 sometime during the 169th Commencement Exercises of Emory University, what best could be called a career limiting move, a Windows 7 deployment image was accidentally sent to all Windows machines, (approximately 2000+ machines) including laptops, desktops, and even servers. This image started with a repartition / reformat set of tasks.

As soon as the accident was discovered, the SCCM server was powered off – however, by that time, the SCCM server itself had been repartitioned and reformatted.

Restoration of Emory.edu servers began immediately, but the process took far longer than expected, The Emory Information Technology team started using consultants to help validate the health of the SCCM servers and that work only completed only recently.

To put this in perspective, Emory’s IT staff were unable to use the preferred methods for redeploying images to desktops/laptops and relied on older methods – USB + Ghost, LANDesk (Emory still had their old LANDesk server) + PXE. These methods required a lot of manual work plus their success was uneven with them.

InfoSec News reached out to the on-call information technology staff and learned that things are beginning to get back to normal, and they couldn’t imagine how much worse this could have been if this had happened when the college was fully staffed and occupied.

Emory University is a private research university in metropolitan Atlanta, located in the Druid Hills section of unincorporated DeKalb County, Georgia, United States. The university has nearly 3,000 faculty members; awards and honors recognizing Emory faculty include the Nobel Prize, the Pulitzer Prize, National Humanities Medal, Guggenheim Fellowship, Fulbright Fellowship, and membership in the American Academy of Arts & Sciences and the National Academy of Sciences.

The university has nine academic divisions: Emory College of Arts and Sciences, Oxford College, Goizueta Business School, Laney Graduate School, School of Law, School of Medicine, Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing, Rollins School of Public Health, and the Candler School of Theology

InfoSec News will keep you posted with further details as we learn more.