MIT student apologizes for hoax email

Posted: 03/20/13 at 10:40 am EDT      Last Updated: 03/20/13 at 10:34 pm EDT

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. (WHDH) -- A hoax email went out to students across the Massachusetts Institute of Technology campus early Wednesday morning.

The email appeared to be from the school’s president canceling classes because the school received threats. The school said in a statement on its website that the email supposedly from President L. Rafael Reif sent at 1 a.m. Wednesday was from "an in individual pretending to be him" and "the Institute will operate as usual" Wednesday.

The email was sent by MIT student Delian Asparouhov.

In an email to 7News, Asparouhov apologized saying, “I’d like to apologize for the damage I caused to the MIT community, especially in light of the recent events that have caused large amounts of strife, which I only added to.”

The email said the school was making an important step in relation to the Aaron Swartz situation. Swartz, an Internet activist, was being prosecuted after being accused of illegally downloading MIT documents using the university’s network. Swartz committed suicide in January.

Students on MIT’s campus said they either received or heard about the hoax email early Wednesday morning.

“It seems to be something he did without really thinking it through a tremendous amount. In this case, he sent it to a lot of people. So I imagine the effects will have a much wider ranging than he expected it to be,” said Martin Segado, an MIT student.

Asparouhov said the prank began when he was trying to explain to friends how email is an insecure protocol and it was easy to spoof an email to be sent from anyone.

“I’m surprised -- I thought [Asparouhov] was a better coder than this. There was a good deal of error in his scripts that allowed for the email to be sent out 120 times per refresh,” said Sam Cannon, an MIT student.

MIT has not said if Asparouhov will be disciplined for the email.

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