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Data Breach Occurs at Northwestern

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July 14, 2006 | by Alan K. Cubbage

EVANSTON, Ill. --- Northwestern University recently discovered that files containing names and personal identification information were on nine desktop computers that had been accessed by unauthorized persons from outside the University.

As many as 17,000 individuals' records have been identified as being stored on the computers in the Office of Admission and Financial Aid. Northwestern is continuing to investigate the incident to determine if additional records may have been involved. There is no indication that the unauthorized persons accessed any of the personal information, or were even aware of its existence on those computers.

As soon as the computer security breach was discovered, Northwestern's technical support personnel shut down the affected computers. In compliance with University policies and privacy regulations, Northwestern is notifying the individuals for whom it has addresses whose information was stored on the computers.

While there is no indication that any personal information was accessed, Northwestern recommends that, as a precautionary measure, anyone who has provided Social Security number information to the University's Office of Admission and Financial Aid follow the identity theft precautions published by the Federal Trade Commission:

1)  Contact the fraud department of one of the three major credit bureaus listed below to check for irregularities on your credit report.  You may also want to request that the credit bureaus issue a fraud alert on your accounts.

Credit Bureaus:

Equifax:  800-685-1111 (ordering report) / 800-525-6285 (fraud alert)

Experian:  888-397-3742 (ordering report and fraud alerts)

Trans Union:  800-888-4213 (ordering report) / 800-680-7289 (fraud alert)

2)  Further information is available from the FTC by visiting http://www.ftc.gov or http://www.consumer.gov/idtheft/index.html or by calling toll-free 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357); TTY: 1-866-653-4261.

Anyone who believes their records may have been involved in this incident should contact Max Chung in Northwestern's Office of Admissions and Financial Aid by e-mail at university_enrollment@northwestern.edu or by phone at 1-888-209-0097.

Topics: University