A data breach of “five departmental servers” at Iowa State University (ISU) has exposed the “social security information” of over 29,000 students and faculty, according to a recent article published on The Gazette website. The article indicates that because of this breach the institution is “reaching out to nearly 49,000 current and former students” to advise them of the “information hack” and inform that “students face no financial threat.”
It has been determined, according to the report, that the “compromised servers” held both Social Security numbers belonging to “29,780 students enrolled at Iowa State between 1995 and 2012.” The report also confirmed that “university ID numbers” of 18,949 students were also housed on these servers prompting the university to quickly reach out and inform individuals who fall under each category.
Iowa State and law enforcement officials have not identified a suspect, but as a statement quoted in the article indicates, it was the attackers intention to “generate enough computing power to create bitcoins (a form of digital money that can be used to buy merchandise anonymously)”, according to the report. The article notes that the university has “decommissioned, removed from the Internet and destroyed compromised servers” and similar servers that were once used can no longer “be accessed online, have been updated to prevent hacking and soon will be replaced” as they exercise “an abundance of caution.”
Senior Vice President and Provost Jonathan Wickert was quoted in the article saying that the university is taking “every possible action to safeguard the personal information of those who learn and work here. We have well-regarded cyber defense experts here who not only protect university data, but educate others on how to prevent computer attacks. Unfortunately, Iowa State is not immune to hacking, but we are disappointed and sorry for the inconvenience this incident may cause.”
Read more about this massive data breach in the full article and see how Iowa State University plans on supporting their community during this time of questions and doubt.