Breach, Data Security, Malware

College server infected, possibly to steal research data

The personal information of tens of thousands of University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (UWM) students and employees is at risk after a server was discovered to be infected with malware.

How many victims? 75,000.

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

What happened? The school's technology staff on May 25 discovered malware on a server that housed a software system used by several departments to manage sensitive data. The affected system included a database of confidential information that would have been accessible to attackers.

Details: School officials, however, do not believe the attackers got away with any sensitive data. In addition, no financial information was affected.

Quote: “We are a research institution with a significant number of projects under way,” said Tom Luljak, UWM's vice chancellor for university relations. “It is theorized that this may have been an attempt to look at work being done."

What was the response? After discovering the malware, the university promptly shut down the affected server and cleaned the infection before restarting it. Local and federal authorities were notified. The college alerted victims, and set up a website and helpline to provide information. In addition, the university has updated security on its systems to better protect against attacks.

Sources:, University of Wisconsin- Milwaukee, “Information on Computer Security Incident at UW-Milwaukee,” Aug. 10, 2011., Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, “UWM computers hacked; data on 75,000 exposed,” Aug. 10, 2011.

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