Computer swipes may yield student identity theft

Bryan Wroten

The Office of Security and Compliance is investigating the possibility that there is sensitive student information on computers stolen from Taylor Hall.

The thefts occurred between the afternoon of Aug. 20 and the morning of Aug. 21. Two Dell computers and monitors belonging to secretaries were stolen from the dean of the College of Communication and Information’s office, the Kent State Police Department confirmed.

Two Dell computers and four monitors were stolen from the dean of the College of Fine and Professional Arts’ office. Another computer in the Fine and Professional Arts office was moved but not taken.

Beth Bush, administrative secretary for the College of Communication and Information, said Student Information Systems, a database hosted through a university network, was accessed from her computer.

The database has “everything about students — addresses, Social Security numbers and grade point averages,” she said, but there is no financial information on Student Information Systems.

Bush said she would access the system with a password but would then save the information to her computer. The only obstacle for someone trying to find this information then would be the computer login.

James Gaudino, dean of CCI, said Bush and CCI secretary Lyn Spellman primarily used their computers for e-mail, correspondence and looking up statistics for reports.

“Our purpose (for using the databases) had nothing to do with student addresses or Social Security numbers,” Gaudino said.

Scott Rainone, assistant director of university media relations, said the Office of Security and Compliance is working to figure out what sort of student information was on the computers.

To recover the information, Director of Network Services Greg Seibert and his team are going through backup files, interviewing those related to the thefts and reading printouts. He said he should be able to have a full report within the week and could not elaborate.

The campus police are working with Seibert in the investigation. Assistant Police Chief Dan FitzPatrick said the police are not commenting on suspects at this time and have not determined if there was more than one person involved.

FitzPatrick said there were signs of forced entry in the CCI office, as the top of the door was cracked where the locking pin fit into the ceiling. The F&PA office had no signs of forced entry.

The nearby conference room, however, had damage similar to the CCI office door. He said the police are not speculating as to the reason behind the thefts.

Timothy Chandler, dean of F&PA, said he believes the computers were stolen for resale value, not student information.

“They were very selective about what they took,” he said. “They didn’t take one of the older machines, a perfectly good machine. They took the top-of-the-line computers.”

Chandler said he is meeting with campus security to figure out new security measures for the office areas.

Contact religion and minority affairs Bryan Wroten at [email protected].