17 Aug 2011

Purdue hack compromises Social Security numbers

Purdue University recently sent letters to 7,093 former students, alerting them that their Social Security numbers may have been accessed during a computer security breach last April.

A Purdue spokesman, Chris Sigurdson, told the university's newspaper, the Boilerstation, investigators spent two months matching up the compromised Social Security numbers with corresponding students, who were enrolled in classes between 2000 and 2005.

The university stopped using Social Security numbers for identification purposes in 2005, the Boilerstation reports.

School officials said the hack appeared to be a malware program that intended to use the Purdue system to launch further attacks, not an identity theft operation.

The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee recently announced an online image bank was attacked last spring, exposing about 75,000 student, faculty and staff Social Security numbers. Universities are also a popular target on the recently launched Rank My Hack website, which awards hackers points for compromising high-profile organizations. Site users claim to have hacked the University of Virginia, Stanford, Vanderbilt and Harvard, among other schools.