Ohio State reports massive network security breach

Hackers stole information from about 600,000 people in higher education in 2009, according to a report published by Identity Theft 911, an Arizona-based company founded by consumer advocates and experts from the financial industry and law enforcement.

Twenty-seven American colleges and universities saw personal records stolen in the first seven months of 2009, and the Identity Theft 911 report concludes that a “sprawling profusion” of disparate computer networks and servers–each with a different security policy–makes IT departments “powerless to enforce any standards,” meaning student grades, credit information, and Security Social numbers remain vulnerable.

A bevvy of IT security breakdowns were reported at several large universities last summer.

At least three universities—the University of Maine, Penn State University, and Florida International University—reported data breaches in June that compromised Social Security numbers, academic and financial records, and other information for about 40,000 students and faculty across the three institutions.

These universities and others that have scrambled to alert faculty and students of data crimes in recent years are not alone, according to research from the Identity Theft Resource Center, a San Diego-based nonprofit organization.

The number of reported data breaches in schools and colleges increased from 111 in 2007 to 131 in 2008, according to a 2009 report released by the center.

Data-security crimes jumped by 47 percent overall between 2007 and 2008, according to the research.

Florida International University joined the ranks of compromised campuses when officials said more than 19,000 students and faculty had their information exposed on an “unsecure database” identified in May. The school announced June 22 that the information “is now secure.”

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