Breach, Data Security, Vulnerability Management

Several thousand students and staffers affected in Ferris State breach

Tens of thousands of staffers and students may have had their personal information compromised after an unauthorized person dodged network security and gained access to a database at Ferris State University in Michigan.

How many victims? Roughly 39,000.

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

What happened? An unauthorized person gained access to the personal information by evading network security.

What was the response? Access to the server was immediately shut down. Ferris State University hired a national computer forensic firm to help investigate the incident and prevent further unauthorized access. Letters were sent home to affected individuals.

The university sent letters to an additional 19,000 current and former and prospective students whose names and campus-wide student identification numbers were accessible.

Victims are being offered one free year of credit monitoring services.

Details: The university learned of the incident on July 23 and began notifying people in the middle of August. Investigators did not find evidence that the personal information was viewed or removed. The university has not received reports from students or employees that any personal information has been misused.

Quote: “Ferris recognizes the importance of the privacy and confidentiality of personal information that is provided to us," said Ferris State University chief technology officer John Urbanick. "We will continue to strengthen our security measures to help guard against future attempts of this kind."

Source:, Ferris State University, “FSU Acts to Notify and Protect Those Potentially Affected by Data Security Incident,” Aug. 15, 2013.

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