Higley School District Servers Running SETI Software
The director of IT for a school district in Gilbert, Arizona resigned last October after being confronted by district officials with a list of policy violations, including equipment theft, installing unauthorized software on school computers, and, of course, downloading porn.
The Higley Unified School District accused Bradley Niesluchowski of installing software from the University of California-Berkeley’s SETI@home project on district computers. SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) searches for intelligent life outside Earth, and one way they do this is by listening for narrow-bandwidth radio signals from space. In order for radio telescopes to listen for broad ranges of frequencies, massive amounts of computing power are required. That’s where the SETI@home project enters. With SETI’s special software, a broad network of internet-connected computers serves as a supercomputer that can better analyze the digital data from the radio telescopes, therefore increasing chances of detecting extraterrestrials.
Because the former IT Director had sticky fingers, the school district brought in auditors to inventory their IT hardware. The auditors found all but one of the district’s servers – “Server 51.” It’s nice to see that Niesluchowski isn’t without a sense of humor. “Server 51” supposedly is still currently running SETI software, but police have been unable to locate this piece of hardware. They did, however, recover several district computers from Niesluchowski’s house that were also running the SETI program.
As droll as it may sound, I’m sure that there are a few parents who are more upset by alien-searching software on district computers than they are about an IT Director downloading porn at a school.