Stolen Yale Computers Contained 10,000 SSNs

According to the Yale Daily News, Yale University alerted 10,000 current and past students, as well as 200 staff, that two computers stolen from the College Dean's Office July 17 contained their social security numbers.

While the theft does expose the students and staff to potential identify theft, campus representatives said that the computers were password-protected, that thieves most likely stole the computers to sell the hardware rather than the data, and stolen computers typically have their hard drives scrubbed to conceal their origin.

“The University does not believe that this incident presents a significant danger of identity theft because the crime was almost certainly aimed at obtaining hardware for sale--not at exploiting the data that were on the computers,” Yale added in a statement.

That said, Yale advised the staff and faculty with stolen records to watch their bank accounts and credit reports and is working with those individuals to answer their questions.

The Ivy League icon is not alone. The Educational Security Incidents (ESI) website reports that during 2006, approximately 2.6 million data records were reported to have been exposed at universities worldwide, and those are just the number of reported incidents.

Of 2006's data breaches in 2006 at colleges and universities, The Privacy Rights Clearinghouse reported that 20 percent of those breaches were caused by stolen laptops and 17 percent from other stolen computers. The remaining were the result of outside hackers (52 percent), insider malfeasance (2 percent), and human or software incompetence (21 percent). The Clearinghouse reports that 67 breaches in the education sector have occurred in 2007, so far.

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About the Author

David Kopf is a freelance technology writer and marketing consultant, and can be reached at david@dkcopy.com.

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