Letter to Jerry Brown and Janet Napolitano Re: UCSC Compromise

To: Governor Jerry Brown and UC President Janet Napolitano

Sent by email to:
CC: chancellor@ucsc.edu

And by Web form at:


From: Dr. Sam Bowne, City College San Francisco, Computer Networking and Information Technology Department

Re: Security Problem at UC Santa Cruz

Date: May 29, 2014

Six months ago, I found evidence that the servers at UC Santa Cruz were under hostile control by criminals, and being used to sell pharmaceuticals illegally. I notified the UCSC Chancellor and several staff at the college repeatedly, but the problem has not been fixed.

The problem is very easy to see: simply Google "viagra site:ucsc.edu" and you will see more than 7000 pages, some of them now marked "This site may be hacked" by Google. Many of the other hits contain French or Spanish pages advertising Viagra. I have posted an image of the first three hits here:


For the last six months, or longer, UC Santa Cruz has been operating with compromised servers. This is a very dangerous practice, and should not be allowed.

California has already lived through a similar situation with Maricopa Community College, which was breached in 2011 and left the servers under hostile control, leading to another, much worse breach in 2013. The details are here:


The details of my original study are here, although the criminals controlling the UCSC servers have changed their operations significantly since then:


I strongly recommend that UC Santa Cruz hire professionals in incident response to analyze and clean their systems. Removing an infection this old and deep is not cheap or easy, but it must be done.

Please feel free to contact me if I can be of any assistance.


Sam Bowne