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Purdue Students’ Information Leaked on the Internet

An inadvertent online activity has led to the posting of personal information of 111 Purdue students of the 2004 autumn session, warns Purdue University.

The information including the names and Social Security numbers of students enrolled in the Animal Sciences 102 standard was recorded in a document. Although there was no use of the page any longer, it was still on a computer server with an Internet connection. A recent internal search led to the discovery of the dormant document that was reported to Purdue's chief IT officer. According to university officials, there was no evidence of unauthorized use of the information.

The department is not aware of any illegal use of the leaked information but since there could be a possibility, they are trying to inform everyone on the document, said Alan Grant, professor and HOD of Animal Sciences, as published by Indystar on September 10, 2007. Since the class usually takes freshers, many of the affected students could still be in the university in some higher standards, added Grant.

According to the university policy, there is no longer any use of Social Security numbers except when law requires it. All students, faculty, alumni and staff whose details are maintained for business purposes are assigned a university identification number instead.

It has been a decade-long practice to collect and store Social Security numbers as a typical way of keeping individuals' records, said Scott Ksander, Chief Information Officer in the Office of the VP for Information Technology at Purdue as published by Wishtv on September 10, 2007. Since computers are so much in demand to store all kinds of records and the criminals try to look for ways to access such data, Purdue has aggressively changed its traditional practices and adopted new ones to protect identities and records.

Last fall, the University started an improved system for detection and prevention of infiltration into its computer networks. In addition, Purdue has taken up an initiative it has named SecurePurdue where there is an intensive training for system administrators in the campus and wide availability of anti-spyware programs for the campus computers.

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