Universities Hammered by Data Breaches

Thursday, January 13, 2011

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Universities have long been a favorite target for hackers bent on pilfering private data for identity theft and exploitation.

To complicate matters, higher education also has a reputation for not employing the best data security protocols in general, making them susceptible to accidental data loss and exposure.

The breadth and volume of personal data collected by universities, coupled with high turnover and a financially un-savvy population, makes the problem of data loss at these institutions nearly epidemic in nature.

Data exposures usually include the names, addresses, drivers license numbers, financial records, social security numbers and more from students, faculty, and applicants to the schools.

Three universities are currently suffering the aftermath of significant breaches of private data that occurred over the last two months:

  • Ohio State University: Over three-quarters of a million records were exposed
  • University of Wisconsin-Madison: Sixty-thousand records exposed
  • St. Louis University: Still undetermined number of records exposed over a five year period

Given the budgetary constraints universities operate under, it is unlikely that serious data loss events will see a decline anytime soon, and may in fact see a marked increase.

University of Wisconsin-Madison officials summed up the problem in statements issued on their Web site:

"This incident illustrates the continuing security challenge the university faces with on an ongoing basis. The university will continue to upgrade its security to avoid similar such situations in the future."

Source:  http://campustechnology.com/articles/2011/01/12/3-universities-knocked-by-security-breaches.aspx

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