Breach, Data Security, Vulnerability Management

Hackers access UW-Madison computer systems

Hackers infiltrated the University of Wisconsin (UW)-Madison computer systems and accessed the personal information of tens of thousands of individuals affiliated with the college.

How many victims? 60,000.

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

What happened? UW-Madison officials became aware of the intrusion on Oct. 26. The breach affected mostly former students, faculty and staff members.

Details: One of the files in system contained old university photo IDs containing Social Security numbers and corresponding cardholder names. An investigation by the UW-Madison division of information technology and office of computer security found nothing to suggest that the data had been downloaded or used maliciously. The identities of the hackers remain unknown.

Quote: "Before privacy was taken as seriously as it is today, a student's Social Security number was embedded inside that ID card number," said UW-Madison spokesman John Lucas.

What was the response? Letters have been sent to affected individuals.

Source:, Wisconsin State Journal, “UW-Madison warns 60,000 of card data theft,” Dec. 10, 2010.

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