A hacking incident at Macquarie University, Sydney, last weekend should serve as a reminder that managing IT is not a 9-to-5 gig.

Don’t let this be you over the holidays.
(Screenshot by Chris Duckett/TechRepublic)

It all began on a Friday night. A pair of hackers claimed to have found an open administration panel and, from there, then gained access to the site’s database. A million plaintext passwords were open for all to see, at least, that is what the hackers claimed on the defacement page. Later on, the university said that 2600 accounts with encypted passwords were compromised.

But it wasn’t the possible leakage of passwords or even the defacement of a public part of the university’s network that was the most disturbing thing — tt was the time taken to respond to the breach.

From late Friday night until the early daylight hours of Monday morning, the site was left up, showing its new, defaced look to the world.

To add insult to injury, it wasn’t even a site that the university looked after. A third party was responsible for the site, and it took them until 6am on the Monday to advise Macquarie Uni of the breach.

It would be nice if hackers executed their intrusions during business hours and if hardware failed on weekdays, but anyone that has been responsible for uptime will tell you that that is not how it is. There are more hours in the day outside of business hours, so you cannot rely on being there when things go wrong.

For Australians, there is less than two weeks until almost everyone has roughly a fortnight off — best of luck to you if you think that you can walk away for Xmas break and not have to check in again until early January.

Do you know who is responsible for monitoring your infrastructure over the break? Do you know what your third-party providers or vendors are doing on this front? Do you have any automated tools to check and notify you of any security breaks or strange behaviour?

If you answered “no” to any of the above questions, there’s still time to avoid embarrassment.

You don’t want to be left in a position where your site is hacked on Christmas Eve, and then left untouched until 2013.