Many college students may not consider that their identity could be compromised, especially through their school.
However, that unfortunate circumstance struck the University of Hawaii recently, when the personal information of 53,000 people was potentially compromised. According to a report in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, hackers were able to breach the security of a parking office computer that contained the credit card information and other personal data of thousands of people. Officials said that 40,870 Social Security numbers and details on 200 credit cards could have been compromised thanks to a virus installed on the computer.
One University of Hawaii spokesman told the paper that there has been no indication that any of the information has been used, downloaded or even viewed by the hacker. While officials are unsure how it happened, the matter has been turned over to the Federal Bureau of Investigation and a forensic investigator at the school. The school believes the attack involved a website in China.
A routine audit on June 15 uncovered the security breach, which granted the unknown hacker unauthorized access to a computer server on May 30, the paper said. The database they hacked contained names, Social Security numbers, driver's license numbers, vehicle information and credit card details, as well as University of Hawaii identification numbers. In the case of the school IDs, no other sensitive personal information was exposed. Those affected by the attack include faculty and staff members at the University's Manoa campus in 1998, and anyone who did business with the parking office between Jan. 1, 1998, and June 30, 2009.
The paper reported that the school has sent letters to the affected people and will soon send emails to those for whom the school does not have a current mailing address.
The paper also said that University of Hawaii-affiliated community colleges have been attacked in the last two years. Kapiolani Community College saw 15,000 student records compromised in 2009, and Honolulu Community College had a security breach in which the credit card information for 35 students was accessed on February 4.
According to a report in the Kennebec Journal, a computer system at the University of Maine in Orono was recently compromised as well, exposing personal information of more than 4,000 students who visited the school's counseling office since 2002.