Local News

Auditor: University employees downloaded music, porn

Posted June 17, 2008 11:23 a.m. EDT
Updated June 17, 2008 5:22 p.m. EDT

— Two employees of North Carolina Central University and one at North Carolina State University used state-owned computers to download music, movies, games and pornography, State Auditor Leslie Merritt said Tuesday.

N.C. Central discovered a potential problem during an internal review, and Chancellor Charlie Nelms reported computer misuse to University of North Carolina system administrators, who then turned the investigation over to the State Auditor’s Office. During their investigation, auditors discovered a former N.C. Central employee got a job at N.C. State and continued to misuse computers, Merritt said.

Investigators found hundreds of movies had been downloaded over the past three years, and some were hidden in the universities' computer networks. The N.C. employee also allowed a friend to use his work computer to download music, investigators said.

The three employees, who worked in the information technology departments at the two universities, told investigators they liked using the university computer networks because they provided faster downloads than their personal computers.

All three have been fired.

Other findings of the N.C. Central investigation include the unauthorized distribution of copyrighted materials, unauthorized access to servers at another university and the failure to properly verify new employee’s employment and education history, Merritt said.

Other findings at N.C. State include possible violation of federal copyright laws and intentional deletion of information to conceal inappropriate use.

“With the universities’ cooperation, information systems auditors were able to uncover, analyze and categorize a vast amount of inappropriate data stored on state-owned computers and servers,” Merritt said in a statement. “In the Information Age, state auditors must stay one step ahead in using technology to detect fraud, waste and abuse."

The findings have been sent to the FBI, the U.S. Attorney's Office, the State Bureau of Investigation, the Wake County and Durham County district attorneys and the state Attorney General's Office for further investigation and possible prosecution.

N.C. Central issued a statement Tuesday, noting that security policies and procedures have been updated to prevent further misuse of the university computer system.

N.C. State said in a statement that it plans to conduct additional employee training on policies prohibiting illegal downloads.