Hackers access sensitive UF systems again

The University of Florida has experienced more than a dozen security breaches involving electronically stored information in the past year -- the most recent of which occurred on Dec. 22 when a hacker in the Caribbean nation of Antigua and Barbuda accessed the school’s computer system.

How many victims? 97,200.

What type of personal information? Names and Social Security numbers of individuals who used UF's Grove computer system since 1996.

Details: The Grove system contained course materials, class records and a free e-mail service. Course materials on the site contained Social security numbers. The breach was discovered Jan. 14 by an information technology staff member during a review of computer systems.

UF spokeswoman Janine Sikes said it's unknown whether the hacker accessed personal information.

The school experienced another breach in October, when a hacker accessed a server with personal information of more than 344,000 dental patients. Up until 2003, student’s university identification numbers were the same as their Social security numbers.

What was the response? The Grove system was shut down and will return in a different form. UF sent notification letters Tuesday to most individuals with information on the system, but was unable to find addresses for about 5,000 of them.

UF has increased training of information technology staff to prevent breaches. The information technology offices throughout campus are being merged into one central office to maintain better control of information, Sikes said.

The school also may create a task force to identify security weaknesses before they become a problem.

Quote: "We're got to continue to step up our vigilance and we're committed to doing that," Sikes said.

Source:, The Gainesville Sun, “Foreign hacker accessed UF student, employee records,” Feb. 19, 2009.

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