Texas A&M Prof Posts Partial SSNs, Grades of Former Students OnlineFOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 27, 2008
Media Contact: Aaron Titus
COLLEGE STATION, Texas. On November 21, 2000, someone posted the names, scores, Grades, and last five digits of 44 students' social security numbers on a Texas A&M server. All affected students attended Dr. Clyde Munster's Fall 1998 Hydrologic Principles in Agriculture class (AGEN 350). The Liberty Coalition discovered the files in late November, 2007. Though the university quickly removed the files from public access after notification, copies remained online through late March, 2008 in search engine caches.
This breach fits within a common pattern where university faculty or staff use university servers to store backed-up files, assuming that since the system requires a password to upload files, that the servers are private. Unfortunately, in this instance, some of Dr. Munster's backed-up files contained sensitive information which was made available online and picked up by search engines.
Individuals affected by this exposure should immediately visit www.nationalidwatch.org and search for their names, to confirm what types of personal information were exposed. NationalIDWatch.org has a list of recommended steps victims should take.
National ID Watch is a search engine for personal information breaches. Sponsored by the Washington, DC non-profit Liberty Coalition, NationalIDWatch.org provides more than a million free personalized Identity Exposure Reports™ as a public service.
Each Identity Exposure Report (IXR) documents what types of personal information were exposed (such as Social Security Numbers, Birth Dates, Addresses, etc.), without revealing them. Each IXR also details the situation surrounding each exposure, and contact information of those responsible for the breach. Armed with this information, victims can further investigate, take action, or correct harm.