A UNT server storing electronic records dating back to 1999 was plundered by hackers who made off with all sorts of sensitive stuff. Credit card numbers, SSNs, and so forth. The university is having to contact more than 38,000 current and former students to tell them about the breach. The full release:
Personal data of 38,607 may be at risk due to UNT computer security breaks
UNT has Web Site and Call Center to assist concerned persons
DENTON (UNT), Texas — The University of North Texas began notifying about 38,607 current, former and prospective students today that some of their personal information may have been available electronically to unauthorized persons.
The personal information may have included names, addresses, telephone numbers, social security numbers, student identification numbers, student ID passwords and student classification information. In addition, 524 credit card numbers may have been exposed.
UNT has no evidence to suggest that personal identities have been compromised as a result of two breaks in computer security, but nevertheless it is encouraging persons who believe they may be at risk to take appropriate precautions to protect against identity theft.
In an effort to provide information and assistance, UNT has set up a special Web site and established a hotline for individuals who believe they may be affected.
A server storing electronic university housing records — dating back to 1999 — was accessed by computer hackers.
In addition, records containing personal information were mistakenly compiled and retained in an electronic file during a four-year period (2001 – 2005) from Web-based financial aid inquiries. The data could be found using a search engine with specific key words and numbers. The file did not contain information about financial aid awards and disbursements or personal financial information.
The total of 38,607 records in the housing server and financial aid files include 1,812 records that were stored in both — plus an additional 34,036 electronic university housing records and 2,759 financial aid inquiry records. Upon discovery of the computer security breaks, UNT immediately blocked access to both the server and the electronic file and cancelled all potentially exposed passwords.
The university also launched a universitywide search to help ensure that no other Web-based files are vulnerable to unauthorized persons. The next step for UNT is to implement additional universitywide procedures to try to prevent similar problems in the future.
Hackers are continually scanning academic and business networks for vulnerability. In a typical 24-hour period, a server in UNT’s computer system may be probed unsuccessfully as many as 1.2 million times by unknown persons.
UNT is not alone. This year according to media reports, breaks in university computer security may have exposed the records of hundreds of thousands of college students, alumni and employees throughout the nation.