DU Students, Alums Warned Of Security Breach

May 8, 2008


CHICAGO -- Some Dominican University students and alumni were notified this week of a breach in security that could have put their personal information at risk.

The university said two students were able to access records on a staff network storage area in April. The files were three spreadsheets from 2003, 2005 and 2007. The data included the names, addresses, phone numbers, birthdays and Social Security numbers of more than 5,000 students, NBC5's Charlie Wojciechowski reported.

Those students were notified by a letter advising them that at this time, the school has no reason to believe their information has been misued.

One former student -- whose name NBC5 is not using because his information has been compromised -- is still concerned.

"I was a little upset. I was nervous. I didn't know what to do. I knew that our family's been affected by this before, so I wanted to react right away," the student said.

Dominican University released a statement on the issue but declined an invitation to speak with NBC5 on camera. The statement read:

"Dominican University takes information security very seriously. In April, we discovered that two student workers had accessed Excel files containing limited student data by misusing passwords related to their work-study employment. We notified all affected parties in writing, set up a toll-free hotline, and have worked closely with both the local police and states attorney's offices.

The students went through a full university judicial process, were suspended temporarily and have been barred from future campus employment, among other sanctions. The university is conducting a complete security audit and internal review.

At this time we have no reason to believe that any information has been misused, but retain the right to prosecute as necessary."

The students involved are back at school, making current students wonder if their personal information is still vulnerable, Wojciechowski reported.

"I think that's crazy, because ... people can get your information, know things about you (and) you can't do anything about it," another student said.

The student whose information was accessed said he is now constantly looking over his shoulder.

"Someone actually just charged on my debit card something. (It was) unrelated to this, I think, but it freaks me out every day now," he said.

The affected students were advised to contact one of the three major credit bureaus to put a fraud alert on their accounts. Dominican University said the two students involved in the breach are cooperating with the investigation.

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