Hackers steal data from KSU

Abbey Stirgwolt

Even if they weren’t superstitious, 19,000 people received an e-mail from Kent State on Friday the 13th that was unlucky.

The e-mail, which was sent “mostly to prospective students,” detailed information about a computer break-in that, should the stolen information be used, could lead to identity theft, said Greg Seibert, director of security and compliance.

“The theft – including names, Social Security numbers and birth dates – might have included your identity information,” Seibert’s e-mail stated. “By possessing this information, individuals could obtain additional personal information.”

The information was stolen from a database that contained student applications.

“Sites like that are harder to protect because they’re basically open to the world,” Seibert said.

Though the identity of the computer hacker has not been discovered, it has been determined the perpetrator accessed the database from outside the United States.

No unusual credit activity has been reported, though Seibert encouraged students as a precaution to contact one of the three main credit reporting agencies, whose phone numbers were listed in the e-mail, to place a fraud alert on their Social Security numbers.

He also recommended students watch carefully for unusual activity involving their credit accounts. If any issues arise, students should contact the Office of Security and Compliance or e-mail [email protected].

Seibert said cases similar to this – namely computer hacking and identity theft – “happen all over,” especially to businesses and institutions. Since these incidents are not required to be reported in Ohio, many businesses keep them quiet for fear of losing customers.

“We do (report them) for ethical reasons,” Seibert said.

University police are currently investigating the incident. Seibert said the university will try to find those responsible and take necessary actions against them.

“We’re going to try to prosecute and find those responsible,” he said.

Contact technology reporter Abbey Stirgwolt at [email protected].