Missouri State University student data posted online

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Officials at Missouri State University in Springfield are notifying thousands of students whose personal information inadvertently was exposed online.

How many victims? 6,030.

What type of personal information? Names and Social Security numbers.

What happened? In preparation for an accreditation, the Missouri State University's College of Education late last year prepared electronic lists of students, by semester. They were to be made available on secure servers accessible by university personnel working on the accreditation.

Instead, the lists were posted in October to November to an unsecured server and were searchable on Google. The university discovered the breach on Feb. 22. 

Details: The lists contained information about students who attended the College of Education between 2005 and 2009.

Quote: “It is very unfortunate that this breach occurred,” said Jeff Morrissey, chief information officer at Missouri State. “We are taking this breach very seriously, and we hope these steps will prevent inappropriate use of the personal information that was compromised.”

What was the response? Since learning of the breach, the university has worked with Google to remove all the lists and is notifying affected individuals, who will be offered identity theft protection insurance. In addition, the university notified the state's attorney general and will discipline the employee who posted the information. Finally, the university has secured all College of Education accreditation lists and is working with all other college deans to prevent future inadvertent data exposures.

Source: Missouri State University, “College of Education students notified of security breach,” March 3, 2011.

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