26 September 2012

Lax IT security blamed for Australia visa university scam

An investigation into an Australia visa scam uncovered at Perth's Curtin University has been blamed on poor security when it came to handling staff members' username and passwords.

Australia visa

Poor security in the facility's database allowed Low to doctor IELTS test scores.

The scam, which was reported last week, resulted in the imprisonment of Keith Low but the investigation into how Australia visa applications were tampered with involved 12 further members of staff.

The university has since stopped conducting English language proficiency tests - IELTS tests - but the Corruption and Crime Commission (CCC) were determined to know how the scheme was perpetrated in the beginning.

The CCC found that Low was able to exploit the database's crashing by logging back in with others' usernames and passwords successfully and changing IELTS scores; due the system's crashing, the database could not track any changes made to the score.

While the university no longer issues the tests, the CCC said the investigation highlighted the need for the most up to date security measures to be implemented in systems handling such delicate applications.

During public hearings into the case held in March 2011, Low admitted he had taken substantial bribes to improve IELTS test results in order for applicants to successfully apply for permanent residency; it is thought Low was paid up to AU$1,500 (£960) per person.

The Australian Visa Bureau is an independent migration consultancy specialising in helping people lodge applications with the Australian Embassy.

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