The University of Central Florida has announced that its computer system had been hacked and data on as many as 63,000 present and former students, faculty and staff was taken. The stolen data includes data on employees of the University going back as far as the 1980s Included in the compromised data were names and Social Security numbers which can be used by hackers for purposes of identity theft. Although the data breach was discovered last month, it was only announced yesterday in order to give the University time to conduct an investigation into the matter. Everyone affected by the data breach will receive a letter in the mail with information about how to sign up for free credit monitoring and identity theft protection services. The University will not be contacting people by email or text messages, so if you do receive such a communication related to this data breach, it is a scam.
The initial letters to those affected by the data breach will be going out today, but you can also call a special hot line set up by the University for more information at 877-752-5527 or go to the website set up by the University to provide information and assistance to those involved in the data breach. The website is http://www.ucf.edu/datasecurity/
Although in this instance, the Social Security numbers of those affected by the data breach legitimately needed to be obtained by the University because the bulk of those whose data was compromised were employees of the University including students involved in work-study programs, colleges and and universities are notorious for both gathering personal information that they often do not need as well as storing and maintaining that information long after the need for that information no longer exists. So long as colleges and universities continue to both gather large amounts of personal information and fail to adequately protect that information, they will continue to be targets of hackers and identity thieves.