February 10, 2018 10:03:58 PM
A former Mississippi State University student is a suspect in an ongoing investigation into tampering with university files.
MSU Chief Communications Officer Sid Salter confirmed to The Dispatch that state, federal and local law enforcement agencies are involved in the investigation. Salter said a "substantial" amount of forensic work remains to be done in the investigation and it may be days, if not weeks, until formal charges are filed. The probe has been ongoing since December, Salter said.
Law enforcement agencies served a search warrant on Thursday at the Garden Homes of Highlands Plantation.
Salter said officials believe the suspect used a device to steal computerized passwords. He added officials believe the act was "reasonably isolated."
"The university as an institution was victimized in this," Salter said. "Some of the actions had impacts on students and faculty, the scope of which and overall impact of which is still being determined by this forensic exercise."
Salter confirmed the suspect is a former student, though he declined to comment on if the student left MSU by graduation, voluntarily withdrawing, expulsion or by some other means.
Salter said MSU is currently limited in what it can say while the investigation progresses.
"Until this forensic work is completed and the prosecutors determine exactly what the charges will be, we have been asked not to comment and introduce too much of the factual matter of the investigation into the public domain," Salter said. "We want to get this right and we take very seriously our responsibility to practice the same cybersecurity that we teach here."
Oktibbeha County Sheriff's Office Lt. Brett Watson said his agency is not directly involved in the ongoing investigation, but a detective did assist in serving the search warrant on Thursday.
Watson noted, however, that OCSO arrested the suspect in November for misdemeanor trespassing and petty larceny, and two felony counts of tampering with evidence.
1. American Deli cashiers speak out after mall melee COLUMBUS & LOWNDES COUNTY
2. Russian-roulette-style game claims New Hope man's life COLUMBUS & LOWNDES COUNTY
3. Affidavit: Catholic priest covered up HIV diagnosis, misused donations STARKVILLE & OKTIBBEHA COUNTY
5. After 30 years of helping women at Recovery House, Johnson to retire COLUMBUS & LOWNDES COUNTY