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Theater Collapses Outside Gate of Yale University

University Wire

A second-floor projection booth of the aging Hyperion Theater, located across from the Vanderbilt gates of Yale University, collapsed at 1:30 a.m. Sunday morning just as students were returning home from Halloween night festivities.

The collapse sent slabs of concrete, bricks and steel raining down on Hyperion Court and created a thick cloud of smoke over Chapel Street.

No injuries were reported. The Red Cross evacuated some residents, and some nearby businesses suffered damages.

The accident occurred when a loose truss beam gave way inside the Hyperion Theater, a turn of the century opera house and later movie theater.

"It sounded like Metro North had been rerouted through Chapel Street," said Charles Johnston. "By the time the fire alarm went off, everyone in the building was already up."

Earlier this year, the city of New Haven had condemned the building, which has been vacant for more than two decades. Workers were completing emergency demolition of the property when the booth fell.

The projector booth was a free-standing, rectangular room above Union League Cafe. Workers said there were no moorings on the structure.

Sunday afternoon, workers resumed demolition, securing the remaining walls of the theater.

The Red Cross evacuated some residents of the Chapel Street area apartments because debris blocked their fire exits. They were housed at the New Haven Holiday Inn. The rooms were charged to Schiavone Management, said Rhaj Adlakha, who was evacuated from his apartment.

New Haven's Schiavone Realty and Development Corporation owns the Hyperion Theater.

The neighboring Union League Cafe restaurant suffered water damage when falling bricks set off a second-floor sprinkler system.

Schiavone estimated the total damages will be more than $400,000.

The booth's collapse was not unexpected, according to workers from Hamden Salvage, the company hired to demolish the opera house.

"We knew [the booth] was going to fall [when we arrived at the scene Saturday night]. It was just a matter of getting people out of the area and making it fall when we wanted it to," said Vincent Farricielli, co-owner of Hamden Salvage.

Mark Engengro, general superintendent for Hamden Salvage, said his workers had left the truss in the mouth of a crane early Saturday afternoon and intended to finish removing it Sunday morning.

Engengro said that he had thought the beam was secure when the workers left for the night.

Dennis Murphy, an employee of Schiavone Management, was showing the theater to his wife around 7:30 p.m. Sunday night when he noticed that the truss beam, which holds up the second floor, was loose.

"We could see that this beam had lifted six feet or so from where it was before. So I called Vincent [Farricielli] and told him to get his men down here as soon as possible," Murphy said.

[Yale Daily News, Nov. 2]

Hackers invade Stanford e-mail

The FBI is investigating a hacking incident discovered Monday in which 5,000 Leland computer system passwords were stolen. It was the first major break-in on Stanford University's Leland system, officials said.

The Leland system is perhaps best known as the hub of student e-mail accounts.

The break-in took place on Oct. 11, but, it wasn't until two weeks later that officials discovered the presence of a "sniffer," a software program that can intercept usernames and passwords in two Leland Systems workstations.

The hacking connection was made directly from Sweden to Stanford. "[The fact that] there are several addresses in Sweden and a machine in Canada, combined with other factors, led us to believe these individuals are in Sweden," said Stephen Hansen, computer security officer.

Stanford, which is taking no new action to improve its network security in response to the incident, has turned the case over to the FBI.

According to Dennis Michael, manager of Leland Systems, hacking is a very serious felony.

"It's a crime to use somebody's password without their permission," he said.

Over the preceding two weeks, 4,500 Leland account passwords, along with 500 other passwords, had been compromised. The accounts affected are mostly student accounts. Only 5 to 10 percent of the accounts involved are those of staff and faculty, said Hansen.

So far the hacker has used only one out of 5,000 accounts. The Web sites and home pages associated with the stolen passwords have not been affected by this incident, said Hansen.

The only way to hack into the Leland system is by actually logging into a machine on campus, according to Hansen. Two original "sniffers" broke into the system and intercepted the password there to hack into the workstations in Sweet Hall.

"The system on the second floor [of Sweet Hall] is the most secured on campus," said Hansen. "It's really just bad luck that they found this machine that is vulnerable."

Michael attributed the vulnerability of the two workstations to human error. Mistakes made during routine maintenance were not corrected, leaving the workstations susceptible to hackers.

"The person responsible did not check it carefully," said Michael. "Our system is only as strong as the weakest machine on campus, that shows how interrelated things all are."

The cost of correcting any hacking incident is "extraordinarily expensive," said Michael, in terms of time spent by University staff.

Stanford officials do not plan to mandate an encryption program on all electronic sessions because some old computers do not run Kerberos and the University's computer administration is very decentralized, according to Hansen.

Taking a "carrot rather than a stick" approach, according to Hansen, officials are making encryption software free for students to download.

[The Stanford Daily, Nov. 2]