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Computer Database of UI Compromised

The University of Iowa has reported a hacking attempt on the Social Security numbers of many students - existing and applicants, and faculty members. A member of the staff at the Molecular and Cellular Biology program discovered the computer hack on May 19, 2007. The Web database software, which stored the Social Security numbers of faculty members, current and prospective students, was compromised.

The breach at the University of Iowa affected approximately 1,000 students and applicants to the Molecular and Cellular Biology graduate program of the school. It also affected 100 members of the faculty who would impart the training course.

UI Associate Provost and Dean of the Graduate College, John Keller said in a statement that the college was deeply concerned about the incident. While apologizing for it, Keller assured the faculty, all students - current and prospective that college authorities were working fast to set the problem right. The appropriate UI and law enforcement officials were aware of the breach and the college officials were assessing the system to adopt additional protection for the websites. The college was confident of having identified the problem and was notifying all the affected persons, so that they could take precautionary actions. Media News Wire published Keller's statement on June 6, 2007.

Although UI officials have found no evidence of the misuse of personal information on the hacked Web site, they are advising faculty and students to guard their identities by issuing fraud alerts with the three main credit bureaus - Equifax, Experian and Trans Union. Instructions on how to place the alerts, as well as other information on security are available on http://www.ftc.gov/idtheft.

The University has also set up a special website to provide affected people with information and advice, which is accessible at http://www.grad.uiowa.edu/news/incident.htm.

The college has identified the individuals affected by the computer breach and is informing them so they can take protective steps. University officials have asked faculty members and pupils to protect personal identifiable information by placing no-cost alerts with three most important credit bureaus. The University was also evaluating the systems to determine methods to improve Web sites' protection.

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