Florida Students, Faculty & Staff Alerted to a University of Florida Computer Breach

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The University of Florida is reporting that a  hacker recently entered their computer system compromising the personal information, including Social Security numbers, for about 97,200 students, faculty and staff members.

The system has been shut down since discovered last month.

The files included the names and Social Security numbers of students, faculty and staff who used the "Grove" computer system between 1996 and 2009.

When it was created, this system provided an online location for faculty to host course materials and class information, and it supported one of the few free e-mail services available to those on campus. Users of the computer system were required to verify their identification with their UF ID numbers, which in most cases were Social Security numbers. At the same time, some faculty housed class records that included student names and their UF ID numbers on the system. UF stopped using Social Security numbers as University ID numbers in 2003.

The breach was discovered Jan. 14 during a systems review by an information technology staff member. The system was immediately shut down, and an investigation began. The investigation confirmed unauthorized access to the system, but it could not determine if files containing private information were accessed.

UF has set up a website and hot line for potential identity-theft victims. They also sent out 92,000 warning letters to those they have addresses on but the trouble is, the university has no contact information for more than 5,000 people.

Anyone who thinks he or she may be one of the 5,000 people who were not notified by mail should read the information provided on UF's Privacy Web site. Concerned individuals may also call UF's Privacy Office Hotline toll-free at 1-877-657-9133.

This is not the University's first computer breach. An earlier blog noted the University reported finding malware found on their servers causing them to notify 330,000 dental school patients of a potential risk of identity theft. Another 8,000 couldn't be located.

Yet again, this breach as well as others reported this week, only serve to prove that we have very little control over our information leaving our identities at risk 24/7.

See a few prior blogs:

Where to get those FREE credit reports!

Do you know what steps you need to take...

Unfortunately, the bad guys are really good at what they do. Taking the time to protect yourself now, should your learn later that your information was compromised or stolen, will save you a lot of time, money and aggravation.

No company, can guarantee you won't be a victim of identity theft. But they certainly can save you time and lessen both the risk and impact. 

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