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Hack at Lasell College Adds to Security Concerns

Computer network at the Lasell College in US has been hacked, leading to unauthorized access of data containing personal details like the Social Security numbers of existing and earlier students, faculty members, staff, and the colleges' alumni, as reported by The Boston Globe on March 19, 2008.

According to investigations so far, Lasell officials informed that the data has not been misused. However, as a precautionary measure, e-mails have been sent to approximately 20,000 people whose details were in the hacked database.

Investigators think that the person behind the hack is an employee at the college's Department of IT.

The college officials further said that the first discovery of the suspicious act was made on February 6, 2008 following which they immediately started an investigation. Officials also said that the attorney generals, the local law enforcement agencies and other authorized people were notified in states of residence of the affected persons.

Expressing concern, the School's Chief Information Officer, Deborah Gelch, said that the college deeply regretted the incident and was investigating into it so that necessary measures could be placed to protect college database and to cut down the data to only the necessary amount, as reported by The Boston Globe on March 19, 2008.

Similar to the current hacking incident, another college breach took place recently at the Harvard Graduate School of Arts and Sciences in February 2008. There, a hacker tampered with a server that held private information of 10,000 applicants to the graduate school and the information ranged from addresses, Social Security numbers to housing preferences and food allergies.

In a special statement, Educause's Security Task Force Coordinator, Rodney Petersen, who helps institutions to keep their database secured, said that incidents of data security had taken up epidemic proportions in the last few years. He said that these have happened not only with universities and colleges but with other organizations as well, making them a significant issue of concern, as reported by USATODAY on March 20, 2008

In the meantime, Educational Security Incidents, which determines the source of security breaches in institutes of higher education revealed that 139 incidents of information security occurred in 2007 at universities and colleges worldwide, a 68% increase from previous year.

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