Final IT forensics analysis confirms no unauthorized grade changes in Brightspace LMS incident in November

Orono, Maine — A University of Maine System forensic analysis of a late November IT security incident involving the Brightspace Learning Management System has found no unauthorized changes to grades or course shells.

The final report by David Demers, UMS chief information officer, confirmed that the Brightspace incident was contained wholly within the learning management system (LMS) and did not impact official student records or grades contained within the MaineStreet Student Information System (SIS).

A total population of 242 students had access to elevated privileges on Brightspace LMS from 8:30 p.m. Nov. 23 until 1 p.m. Nov. 25. Eighty of those students accessed 92 Brightspace LMS courses in which they were enrolled, with three exceptions.

In a Nov. 30 community message(External Site), Demers noted that any unauthorized changes to grades as a result of the elevated privileges would be restored. The final forensic analysis now confirms that no unauthorized grade changes or changes in any Brightspace course shells occurred.

The holiday weekend incident was the result of a technical alteration to a process UMS uses to synchronize course rosters between its official MaineStreet SIS and Brightspace LMS and was not the result of an internal or external hacking event. A permanent solution has been deployed to ensure no further synchronization errors occur.

The Brightspace LMS houses limited student information that is mostly considered directory information (name, email address) along with university ID, student enrollment and course-related activity, but not final official grades. No unauthorized access was granted to the MaineStreet SIS and, therefore, official student records and grades were not compromised.

Instructors and the 2,463 students enrolled in the courses were notified by Nov. 30 that Brightspace profile information and/or course enrollments may have been viewed via unauthorized access.

“We are grateful to the individuals who alerted us to this issue as well as everyone involved with investigating and resolving the issue promptly,” says Demers, who oversaw the forensic analysis. “We acknowledge and thank our UMS colleagues who have played a role in tracking, resolving and investigating the incident over the past several days. The strong team effort played a significant role in our ability to contain the issue and fully understand the impact.”

About the University of Maine System

Established in 1968, the University of Maine System (UMS) unites seven Maine’s distinctive public universities, comprising 10 campuses and numerous centers, in the common purpose of providing quality higher education while delivering on its traditional tripartite mission of teaching, research, and public service.

In 2020 UMS became the first and only statewide enterprise of public higher education in the country to transition to a unified accreditation for the system. Much different than a merger or consolidation, unified accreditation is a new operating model for the University of Maine System that removes the primary barrier to inter-institutional collaboration.

A comprehensive public institution of higher education, UMS serves more than 30,000 students annually and is supported by the efforts of more than 2,000 full-time and part-time faculty, more than 3,000 regular full-time and part-time staff, and a complement of part-time temporary (adjunct) faculty.

Reaching more than 500,000 people annually through educational and cultural offerings, the University of Maine System also benefits from more than two-thirds of its alumni population residing within the state; more than 123,000 individuals.

The System consists of seven main campuses: The University of Maine (UMaine), including its regional campus the University of Maine at Machias (UMaine Machias); the University of Maine at Augusta (UMA); the University of Maine at Farmington (UMF); the University of Maine at Fort Kent (UMFK), the University of Maine at Presque Isle (UMPI); and the University of Southern Maine (USM). The System also includes a UMA campus in Bangor, USM campuses in Gorham and Lewiston-Auburn, the University of Maine School of Law, and the University of Maine Graduate and Professional Center.

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