Central University of Punjab: 13 Exams Cancelled as Hackers Access Question Bank; Read the Whole Story

Samrat Roy Samrat Roy
Exam Prep Master

Central University of Punjab (CUP), Bathinda, has cancelled 13 exams held from July 6-8, 2020 after it found that its question bank had been hacked.

On Friday, Vice-Chancellor RK Kohli said the system was found to be compromised on Wednesday and all 13 examinations conducted from July 6-8, 2020 have been cancelled. "Teachers were asked to prepare question papers for all subjects, and new test dates would soon be announced," he said.

Kohli said the matter came to light after having received an email from an unknown person from a few faculty members and his office, claiming the question bank had been hacked. "The email was sent from ProtonMail, an email service that is encrypted and paid end-to-end where a link was provided. Clicking on it will give you access to all your questions. It's a serious matter and on Thursday, there was a police complaint, "the vice-chancellor said.

ProtonMail is a highly sophisticated cyber platform where it's difficult to identify the email sender, according to police sources.

The university had decided to conduct online examinations in view of the Covid-19 outbreak, where only the schedule was released and students had the flexibility to choose dates to write their tests while they were sitting at home.

Online Mode Adopted Due to Pandemic

University sources said the unidentified email sender had stated that "the application for online examination (developed by CUP) is incorrect and a number of students were unable to sit for the test."

Faculty members, however, said the online exam mode was optional for students and most had enrolled for it.

Previously, the examinations were conducted via intranet on campus. This year the CUP adopted the online mode to facilitate students during the pandemic

.The university administration said it had successfully conducted two mock exams to check the effectiveness of the firewall.

The vice-chancellor said teachers were given online access to the question bank to upload question papers. The system had been password-enabled but at some unknown level it was compromised, he added.

10 Students From One State Scored Exceptionally Well

Interestingly, a group of 8-10 students from a particular state who secured exceptionally well in the semester tests conducted on the first three days has been zeroed down by university administration.

"These students were found to have average marks in the previous semesters, but they scored more than 92 percent in this online examination session, much higher than other students. For cyber scrutiny of the matter, we shared those details with the police, "Kohli said.

Registrar Kanwar Pal Singh Mundra had previously stated that a mock test was successful, and about 400 out of 500 students had participated without much difficulty from home.

Deputy Police Superintendent (DSP) Aswant Dhaliwal, the investigating officer, said the police are investigating the matter from all angles and are checking whether the hacker is associated with the university or a trained individual or a part of a behind-the-crime team.