“The monkey got out of the cage”: Racist Obama link as students spammed

Staff at the University of Florida are reported to have shut down a system that can send cellphone SMS texts to students and staff, after hackers are believed to have compromised the system.

A message saying “The monkey got out of the cage” was potentially sent to tens of thousands of university students and staff yesterday, in what some are describing as a racist reaction to the inauguration of US President Barack Obama.

Mystery surrounds who might have been responsible for the message, which was repeated on online message forums and students’ Facebook profiles.

Forum post about the 'Monkey got out of the cage' SMS spam

The university keeps in touch with its student using a service provided by Atlanta, Georgia-based firm Mobile Campus. Normally the service is used to keep students informed about important information to do with the courses they are taking and university life. And you can understand why that would be a useful service. After all, students these days are more likely to read an SMS text message on their cell phone than check a bulletin board stuck on the corridor wall.

But firms like Mobile Campus need to ensure that their systems remain secure to prevent abuse by people either peddling goods or spreading offensive messages.

Of course, this isn’t the first time that people have been on the receiving end of a zoologically-themed SMS spam campaign on their mobile phones.