12 Oct 2012

Confidential information on thousands of students in Florida stolen

A Florida college suffered a massive security breach leading to exposure of private data of thousands of students and faculty staffers.

What was initially believed to be an attack against employees of the Northwest Florida State College has proven to have also targeted students’ records all across Florida. The records include names, birthdates, and social security numbers and direct deposit account numbers of all students and employees.

 “Additional directory information such as address, phone numbers, college email address, etc. was also likely compromised,” according to college officials.

Ty Handy, president of the Northwest Florida State College, said in a memo addressed to faculty employees that “from May 21, 2012 until September 24, 2012 one or more hackers accessed one folder on [the] main server. This folder had multiple files on it.”

The officials assured staff that “no one file had a complete set of personal information regarding individuals” but unfortunately “by working between files, the hacker(s) have been able to piece together enough information to be able to engage in the theft of identity of at least 50 employees.” Apparently 3,000 employee records and 76,000 student records with personal identification info have been reported stolen.

According to cnet.com, this attack doesn’t seem to be linked to the recent series of security breaches that affected a lot of universities worldwide. GhostShell, the group that assumed responsibility for these attacks against prestigious universities among with Harvard, Stanford, and Princeton motivated their act as a means of drawing public’s attention on the higher education system.