Sacred Heart Latest University To Lose Identities - InformationWeek

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12:27 PM

Sacred Heart Latest University To Lose Identities

The school was hit by hackers, and one local TV station reported that 135,000 notification letters had been sent to current students, prospective students, alumni, and staff members.

The latest school to lose student and faculty data to identity thieves, Sacred Heart University of Fairfield, Conn., acknowledged this week that it had been hit by hackers.

"On May 8, Sacred Heart University discovered that the security system on one of our computers containing personal information was breached," the private school of 5,600 wrote in a message posted to its Web site. "We immediately took the computer offline and began an aggressive investigation using university resources and an independent Internet security firm to determine if data was accessed."

Although Sacred Heart didn't divulge the number of records at risk, local television station WTNH reported Thursday that 135,000 notification letters had been sent to current students, prospective students, alumni, and staff members.

Sacred Heart's breach came two weeks after the disclosure of a three-attack run on Ohio University systems that exposed 200,000 people's identities in April and May. In one of the Ohio breaches, the school was unaware of the data lose for more than a year.

According to the PrivacyRightsClearinghouse, more than half of all reported security breaches in the U.S. since February 2005 have happened at colleges and universities, with 25 major institutions losing data over the past 12 months.

Sacred Heart used that as an excuse.

"While the University maintains a state-of-the-art computer security system and employs a highly qualified outside computer security firm, it is impossible to be 100 percent secure from illicit intrusion into confidential, personal and financial information," said Sacred Heart in its message to students.

But Gartner analyst Avivah Litan thinks that's a cop out. She criticized universities for their cheap, decentralized approach to security.

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