Another day another data breach but this one has affected even those students who were part of the university in the 1980s.
2015 was devastating for the universities in the United States due to increase in cyber attacks. The hackers were able to steal massive personal data from the University of Virginia, Penn State University, University of Chicago, the University of Maryland and Uniformed Services University.
It seems like 2016 won’t be any different because hackers have managed to steal around 63,000 Social Security numbers and names of previous and current University of Central Florida UCF students as well as employees, which further establish the fact that schools and academic institutions are increasingly becoming the targets of cyber security threats.
This stolen data includes around 600 current student-athletes and ex-student-athletes from the 2014-15 session, student staff managers and salient related positions. That’s not all, others who got their data stolen are current UCF employees and some previous ones who were employed as far back as the 1980s.
The information was disclosed on Thursday and the FBI’s Jacksonville office is investigating the matter with UCF Police along with other agencies. According to FBI officials, the agency has sent out notifications to colleges all over the US “in an effort to identify other potential victims,” reports Orlando Sentinel.
In January this year, the UCF got hints of a problem in their system but did not publicly announced about the hack until a month later after working with experts and related authorities to determine the exact details of what has happened, stated the officials.
The positions that were targeted include the undergraduate student employees, which also include those doing work-study jobs, graduate assistants, adjunct faculty instructors, housing resident assistants, student government leaders and those faculty members who were being paid by the University for teaching additional classes.
The incident highlights an important aspect, that hackers have become pro at stealing data from schools, government and other institutions, states Indiana University’s Center for Applied Cybersecurity Research Director Von Welch.
Welch further added: “It’s an extremely hard situation for folks like UCF to be in. They have the large databases … All it takes is one mistake for hackers to exploit. If you’re anything less than perfect, these hacks can occur.”
The university’s IT department head Joel Hartman stated that it is yet unclear who is behind this attack but it is apparent that the hack was conducted by multiple individuals gradually.
He further stated that the stolen information does not include credit card information and grades but other information such as student and employee ID numbers were hacked. The affected individuals will be notified via letters, which will be mailed by Friday.
The University has announced that the affected individuals will be receiving free identity protection and credit monitoring service for one year.
According to Welch, with large breaches the probability of being singled out is “pretty darn small.” However, he advises that people freeze their credit cards so that no one is able to exploit them.
Reportedly, UCF sensed that somebody was accessing their administrative systems on 8th January and again on 15th January. Later on, the institution realized that a larger group of people was affected by this data breach that what was being presumed initially.
Generally, a hacker can acquire access to any database using the phishing method, says Welch, in which a fake email is sent to an employee which appears to be sent by the boss and contains malicious malware. Once it is installed, hackers penetrate the system and steal the information.
The authorities at the UCF are said to be taking necessary steps to ensure that a security data breach doesn’t occur in the future by improving their user account information and password security.