The University of North Florida has notified potential victims that a computer database containing information about people who submitted contracts to live in the UNF residence halls could have been compromised.
UNF has now secured the servers involved in this incident, but an investigation shows the information could have been accessed as early as spring 2011, university officials said.
Vulnerable information includes 23,246 names and Social Security numbers of people who submitted a housing contract between 1997 and spring 2011. While the investigation didn't turn up any evidence that any of the information was copied from the files, it is a possibility, officials said. Therefore, UNF is sending letters and emails to the more than 23,000 people who could have been affected by this breach of security.
"Now we don't have any evidence that the person that went in copied that information or downloaded the information, but we do know that somebody that wasn't authorized got in and at least saw it," UNF spokeswoman Sharon Ashton said.
Student Brad Decker said he's concerned his personal information is at risk after the security breach.
"It puts you on edge because there is a lot of stuff they could do with your identity and stuff like that," said Decker, who lives in a dorm.
The university said it has provided frequently asked questions on its housing website, www.unf.edu/housing, explaining what happened, when it happened, what actions have been taken by the university and precautions those potentially affected may take to safeguard their personal information, as well as actions to be taken in the event of any suspicious activity on their accounts.
UNF has also set up a hotline at 904-620-5499 during normal business hours from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, as well as an email account, firstname.lastname@example.org, to answer questions concerning the data breach.
Additionally, UNF said it is covering the costs of a one-year membership in a credit-protection program for those who may have been affected. The university recommends that those who may have been affected place a fraud alert on their credit files with one of the three credit bureaus: Equifax, 800-525-6285; Experian, 888-397-3742; or Trans-Union, 800-680-7289.
The University Police Department, in conjunction with the university's Housing and Information Technology Services, is investigating this incident.
UNF said it is constantly reviewing and updating information technology security systems and procedures. However, security technology is constantly changing, officials said, which means cyberspace intruders are finding new ways to compromise systems. As new security features become available and UNF becomes aware of new attack modes, officials said, the university will continue to take steps to prevent this type of activity.