USC investigates student information found on the Web

September 6, 2007

Associated Press

The University of South Carolina is looking into what it called an "accidental disclosure" of private student information on the Internet, school spokesman Russ McKinney said Thursday.

The information wasn't on the Web long before the school realized what happened and took immediate steps to remove it, McKinney said.

The university is trying to determine exactly what type of information was released, the length of time it was on the Internet and who might have accessed it. McKinney said.

The breach involved 1,482 students, he said.

The student files were found Aug. 31 by the Washington-D.C.-based nonprofit group Liberty Coalition, said Aaron Titus, director of information privacy for the group.

A number of the files had Social Security numbers, test scores and course grades, Titus said.

"We alerted the university as soon as we discovered the breach," Titus said.

It appears the person responsible for the breach may not have known enough about computers to realize the information could be accessed outside the university system, Titus said.

"But once that information gets out there, it's nearly impossible to tell how many copies of it might have been made," Titus said.

The disclosure was first reported by The Daily Gamecock, the independent student newspaper at the university.

A year ago, the university warned 6,000 current and former students that some of their personal information might have been accessed by an intruder into the school's computer system during September 2005.

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