The operation - dubbed "Project WestWind" - was apparently executed as a protest against the ever-rising tuition fees and the declining quality of higher education all over the so-called Western world.
"We wanted to bring to your attention different examples from Europe, how the laws change so often that even the teachers have a hard time adjusting to them, let alone, the students, to the US, where tuition fees have spiked up so much that by the time you finish any sort of degree, you will be in more debt than you can handle and with no certainty that you will get a job, to Asia, where strict & limited teachings still persist and never seem to catch up with the times and most of the time fail to prep you up for a world where foreign affairs are crucial in this day and age," the hackers said, and included in the release thoughts on the subject from a number of students from around the world.
Among the universities targeted for this release were Harvard, Cambridge, John Hopkins, Imperial College London, Tokyo University, Cornell, Universities of Edinburgh, Zurich, Moscow, Basel, Melbourne, Rome, and many more.
The released accounts and student records contain names, addresses, passwords, email addresses, event schedules, and many other private information. The hackers made each database available on GitHub, PrivatePaste and PasteSite, but GitHub has already deleted the entries.
The hackers claim that the fact that the published "just around 120.000+ accounts and records" is intentional, as there were hundreds of thousands more on the servers, but that they kept the leaked information to a minimum as they were just trying to prove a point.
They also claim that a lot of the servers were already compromised by malware. "No surprise there since some have credit card information stored," they pointed out.
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