U. of GA Leaks Social Security Numbers

The University of Georgia acknowledged Wednesday that a hacker had breached the school's network and potentially accessed up to 2,429 Social Security numbers belonging to current and past faculty. Because of duplicate records, however, university officials believe the number of employees affected is smaller.

The intrusion took place on September 19 from a source outside the United States, which queried the exposed server for personal data. The university has launched an investigation and said no credit card information was contained in the database.

The school is beginning to contact those who may be at risk for identity theft via e-mail or postal mail.

"While there is no evidence that information was actually accessed, the potential exists for the intruder to match names and Social Security numbers, so it is imperative that we notify the individuals involved," said Stan Gatewood, UGA's chief information security officer, in a statement.

Georgia joins a long string of universities struggling with leaks of faculty and student data following network break-ins.

Earlier this month, the University of California, Berkeley announced it had recovered a stolen laptop containing Social Security numbers of 98,000 students and applicants, but could not say whether the data had been accessed. In March, California State University, Chico, informed students and staff that as many as 59,000 may have had their personal information accessed by an intruder.

This is not the first time the University of Georgia has faced data theft. Last year, a hacker accessed the school's network and potentially obtained credit card information on 32,000 students. Fortunately, no reports of the card numbers being misused ever cropped up.

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