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17 March 2008, 10:07

Intruder accesses the data of thousands of Harvard students

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An intruder has broken into the web server of Harvard Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (GSAS) and accessed the personal data of thousands of students of the faculty of humanities. In a statement this week the GSAS announced that the compromised server contained the names, social security numbers, dates of birth, addresses, phone numbers and email addresses of around 10,000 students and also in some cases, health information.

The university cannot rule out that the information was copied and widely distributed. Some media reports claim that records are already available on torrent pages. The Washington Post reported on 20 January 2008 that data from the Harvard server was traceable through the Pirate Bay tracker site. At the time, however, the information in question was said to be a 125 MB website database backup file containing some access data.

The university has now reported that the compromised server was taken offline from February 17 to 21 to investigate the intrusion and improve security. Initial assessments didn't reveal the full scope of the loss, which only became apparent during further investigation. According to the statement from GSAS, everyone affected has been notified and will receive free credit control.


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