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UC Irvine students sent to hospital after hackers send graphic images to their Discord server | #hacking | #cybersecurity | #infosec | #comptia | #pentest | #hacker


A disturbing cyberattack sent some UC Irvine students to the hospital because of the traumatizing images sent by hackers.

“There were some things on there that I just could really not unsee,” student Alina Kim said. “Very graphic, violent.”

Kim is one of nearly 3,000 current and former UC Irvine students who witnessed the gore against their will. 

“I heard about a lot of people vomiting, a lot of people crying,” Kim said. 

The content was posted on Discord, a social platform somewhat similar to Slack with millions of different channels communicating in their separate communities dubbed servers. Thousands of UC Irvine students created their own servers to swap notes, study for tests, and even join clubs. However, on Tuesday, they were bombarded with graphic images. The hackers infiltrated 30 channels and demanded a $1,000 ransom.

Kim, who moderated some of the larger channels on the server, knew something had to be done. 

“Once we realized how widespread the issue was we started reaching out to as many people as we could,” she said. “Made a group chat where we coordinated our efforts.”

Nearly 100 students banded together to create a bot that would automatically ban the hackers. The eventually tracked down 400 different accounts associated with the attack and blocked them. 

“While we’re trying to keep the identity a secret at this time,” Kim said. “We do know is that one of the groups was an alt-right transphobic hate group.”

Kim and other students have reported the attack to UCI police, who hope to escalate it to the FBI. Kim said the attackers have hit other schools including Washington State University and USC. Many times, she said the gore continued to filter through channels for nearly a month. In Irvine’s case,  the graphic images continued to pop up for about four days, according to Kim. 

It was only made possible because of how quickly the UCI community came together,” she said. 

The university offers counseling and cybersecurity help to students affected by the hack. 

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