Data Breaches | News

Unattended Drive Leaves 14,200 Vulnerable at Champlain

A small college in Vermont has gone public with an incident that could lead to data breaches afflicting more than 14,200 people. According to Champlain College in Burlington, a portable storage device with personal data was left unattended in a computer lab on campus. The device had been used to transfer files to a new computer within the Office of Admissions; however, the files weren't deleted from the device before it was returned to the computer lab.

The drive contained information maintained by the college's admissions and financial aid offices and collected off of applications and financial aid forms, including 14,217 Social Security Numbers and names of students who applied for admission. The majority of those affected had applied for undergraduate admission for fall 2010 through fall 2013.

The drive was returned to the information systems department, and the college launched an internal investigation, with the services of outside forensics experts and legal counsel. Although Champlain has found no evidence of actual use of the data on the device, "out of an abundance of caution," it has notified the people whose information was vulnerable to misuse.

Follow-up activities have included offering a year of identity monitoring paid by the college and provided by First Watch Technologies, setting up a phone hotline to answer questions, and providing more general information on how those affected can stay on top of personal accounts in the event of identity theft. It is also implementing new procedures for data collection and data transfer.

"Our goal is to be forthcoming with the truth and to arm members of our community with resources to prevent potential identity theft," said David Provost, senior vice president for finance and administration. "We are working to make sure this type of incident doesn't happen again and live up to the expectations parents and students have of us to keep their information safe. We are committed to getting this right."

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a writer who covers technology and business for a number of publications. Contact her at dian@dischaffhauser.com.

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