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Student Applicants at Harvard Affected in Computer Hacking

Harvard University's GSAS (Graduate School of Arts and Sciences) is notifying nearly 10,000 students that their private information was possibly compromised due to a computer hacking incident, noticed in February 2008.

Officials at GSAS said that the university is offering 6,600 of the affected students a year's credit monitoring facility free of charge considering that their Social Security numbers were also compromised during the incident.

The security breach at the school involved a certain server that contain information about students who had applied for admission to the GSAS for the 2007 academic session and also on applicants who sought housing accommodation.

Apart from applicants' Social Security numbers, the hacked server contained their personal data including name, address, date of birth, phone number, e-mail address, school records and test scores.

The school's Website described the hack as some outsider's effort to gain control over the system to view the data or copy it from the server.

The school decided to shut down the hacked computer from February17, 2008 to February 21, 2008. During that period an investigation was conducted to assess the extent of the breach although initial probe could not fully reveal it. According to a statement by the officials, with the progress of the investigation, it seemed that applicant data including Social Security numbers might have been illegally accessed.

However, Daniel Moriarty, Chief Information Officer, Harvard University, was quoted in the newspaper of the Harvard Crimson campus as remarking that it is still not clear with the university if the hacked system had really been accessed and information disseminated from it, as reported by ComputerWorld on March 13, 2008.

Moriarty said that the university is set to proceed with notifying the students who may have been affected and providing them the monitoring services post the identity theft.

Meanwhile, Margot Gill, GSAS Administrative Dean, apologized on account of the security breach and assured that the university is serious about protecting inmates' personal information. Gill said that the university truly regretted for the inconvenience caused due to the incident and it is taking steps to prevent any repetition of such incidents.

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