University attaches spreadsheet containing personal data to emails

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Thousands of students are at risk after a spreadsheet containing their personal information was inadvertently attached to a campus-wide email sent out by the University of Mississippi Medical Center (UMC) Accounting Department.

How many victims? 2,281 students enrolled in health insurance through the university.

What type of personal information? Names, Social Security numbers, addresses, genders, races, birth dates, phone numbers and grade point averages.

What happened? A spreadsheet containing the data was inadvertently attached to a mass email sent to all students. An investigation into how the mistake occurred is ongoing. 

What was the response? Minutes after the email went out, UMC sent out four recall notices in 40 minutes. UMC then began manually purging the remaining emails from students' webmail accounts. The university notified students of what happened shortly after the incident and is planning to offer identity fraud protection services.

Details: The mass email was sent at 5:32 p.m. CDT on Wednesday. The recall notices were sent at 5:36 p.m., and UMC began manual deletion at 6:22 p.m. The email ended up being delivered to 190 of 2,873 students, 115 of whom were discovered to have opened the email. Three students forwarded the email to an external email account.

Quote: “We sincerely apologize for this mistake," said Jack Mazurak, a UMC spokesman. "We always strive to do our best and, in the event of mistakes like this, to act quickly and follow up with the people who may be affected."

Source: clarionledger.com, The Clarion-Ledger, “UMC accidentally leaks students' personal information,” Aug. 22, 2013.

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