Higher education struggling to contain data breaches this summer

Universities across the country have reported constant cyberattacks from Chinese IP addresses.

College students and their professors may be away from campuses, but news of data breaches big and small continue to make headlines at colleges nationwide, including a few during the last week of July.

From simple accidents that exposed thousands of students to cyberattacks to a barrage of hacking that has plagued higher education over the past year, universities are grappling with new and evolving challenges in protecting vitally important information about their students, alums, and faculty members.

In case you missed it, here’s a rundown of some of the worst data breaches in higher education over the past year, some of which were so massive that the exact number of people affected by the breaches remains unknown.…Read More

The worst higher education data breaches of the past year

More than 14,000 records were hacked at Champlain College after a flash disk was taken from a computer lab.

Perhaps every month, not just January, should be Data Privacy Month in higher education.

Massive data losses have come at a furious pace in colleges and universities over the past year, with news of massive data breaches sometimes greeted with public ambivalence rarely seen even a few years ago.

It’s sometimes difficult to keep track of notable data losses on campuses of every size. It should be noted, however, that 2006 was the high water mark for campus-based data breaches. More than 2 million campus records were illegally accessed that year, according to the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse.…Read More

Experts: University of Nebraska cyber attack was unsophisticated

There have been more than 30 security breaches in higher education this year.

The hacking of information on more than 650,000 University of Nebraska (UN) students, alumni, parents, and employees—which ranks among higher education’s largest data breaches—had the markings of an amateur job.

The university announced last week that the school’s student information system was hacked, possibly revealing the Social Security numbers, financial aid data, birth dates, course grades, and home addresses of University of Nebraska-Lincoln, the University of Nebraska at Omaha, the University of Nebraska Kearney, the University of Nebraska Medical Center and the Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture stakeholders dating back to 1985.

UN officials said the centralized information system was exposed for hours before an IT staffer discovered the breach. Since then, UN police have seized computers and electronic equipment from an undergraduate student who might be connected to the data breach.…Read More

Google search change leads to major higher-ed security breach

IT experts say campuses should more quickly adjust to Google search changes.

A modification in the way Google searches the web exposed the Social Security numbers of 43,000 people affiliated with Yale University, highlighting another data storage vulnerability that could vex campus IT leaders and prompting questions from technologists who are skeptical of colleges’ commitment to securing sensitive information.

The Yale breach is the latest high-profile data security incident in higher education—one that originated in September 2010, when Google announced its searches would include file transfer protocol (FTP) servers, which previously had been off-limits to general internet queries.

Read more about data breaches in higher education……Read More

UK: Google was in ‘significant breach’ of data law

Google violated Britain’s data protection laws when its Street View mapping service recorded data from private wireless networks, the country’s information commissioner said Wednesday. The American Internet search giant will escape any fines, however, so long as it pledges not to do it again, reports the Associated Press. Google Inc. drew international outrage after it emerged that its Street View cars, which take street-level photographs to illustrate the company’s popular mapping service, had also been scooping up e-mails, Internet addresses and passwords from unencrypted wireless networks. Scotland Yard recently said it would not launch a criminal inquiry into the beach, which the company has described as inadvertent…

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Data breaches slam campuses this summer

More than 19,000 students and faculty had their information compromised at Florida International University this summer.
About 19,000 Florida International University students and faculty had their information compromised this summer.

It’s been a tough summer for college IT officials charged with defending campus servers from hackers who target databases brimming with students’ and faculty’s personal information.

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.…Read More

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