Issue About Student Spies on Campus: How True Is It?

CategoriesCollege CampusStudent in China

Security has always been a big issue in most countries, especially since the internet has made access to information much easier if you’re a skilled hacker. Academic institutions, in particular, are very susceptible to surveillance done by spies from other countries. This is usually done so that countries may get access to data from their neighboring countries, so it’s actually not surprising if there are spies that survey students on campus.

According to, it’s more than just spying on text messages – it’s surveying what kind of technology they use and the activities they do. Is it all true or just a myth? Let’s find out.

Iranian Hacker Case

From 2013 to 2017, the US government was able to nab 9 hackers from Iran who were able to infiltrate the computer systems of universities in 21 countries. They were able to take over 140 schools in the US and over 170 universities in other countries. According to the US Justice Department, the motive was to use the information for helping Iranian universities. Apparently, they did a phishing scheme and hacked over 100,000 school emails. About $3.4 billion worth of academic data were stolen which is around 31.5 terabyte worth.

The Presence of Chinese Academic Spies

Of course, this isn’t the only incident of foreign spies who want to take research materials. The US Justice Department also found out that there were 2013 Chinese researchers at New York University sending certain classified research to China. In fact, one of the researchers named Yudong Zhu admitted that he was guilty of the crime. This man was put under house arrest and also received a fine. The other two researchers were a little bit luckier. One had his case dismissed while the other one was able to escape to China before the prosecutors were able to catch him.

Dismissal of Such Accusations

While the US Justice Department had some cases as the one stated above, Michigan State University denies there are any presence of spies in the school, although professor Megan Donahue says phishing incidences have to be handled with the highest form of seriousness. With relation to Chinese spies though, Donahue doesn’t believe that there should be much scrutiny in the number of Chinese students applying in the college. According to her, the Chinese students “don’t have time to spy” because they’re too busy getting a good education.

While Donahue does encourage more Chinese students to enroll in Michigan State University, there are many others in the academic field who are quite suspicious of Chinese students. One example would be because of the Confucius Institutes that the Chinese community built in the campus. This may be deemed as one of the tools to recruit spies.

The cases mentioned above do prove that there definitely is a presence of spies no matter where you go. These academic spies are sent from their homeland to steal information and bring it back. These cases already prove that the presence of spies is a true and serious matter. Of course, this doesn’t mean that universities have to stop excepting foreign students as a whole. More security measures just have to be taken.

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