Nearly 2,500 people who were students in Purdue's College of Science in February 2000 are being warned that their personal information may have been accessed recently in a possible computer security breach.
University officials discovered the possible breach during a routine security check this month of an administrative computer in the Department of Chemistry. The incident involved a file, dated Feb. 4, 2000, that contained personal identifying information, including Social Security numbers, names, school, classification, major and e-mail addresses for 2,482 students.
A preliminary analysis of the computer determined an unauthorized person may have gained access to the hard drive remotely and installed software that would have permitted files to be downloaded.
"We have no evidence at this time that information was accessed," said Scott Ksander, interim executive director for networks and telecommunications in the Office of the Vice President for Information Technology.
Ksander said officials were still actively investigating the possible breach, even as those who may have been affected by it are being notified. He did not believe any faculty or staff information was affected.
Staff in the College of Science sent letters to all those believed to have been affected by the possible breach.
Anyone who does not receive a letter but believes he or she was in the affected group should contact Purdue at (866) 307-8520. More information about the incident is also available online at www.science.purdue.edu/news/articles/incidentfaq.asp.
Under university policy, Social Security numbers are no longer used as student or staff identification numbers, except where required by law. Individuals are assigned a separate Purdue identification number to help protect personal information.
Additionally, information security staff are taking steps to prevent security breaches. A large-scale initiative called SecurePurdue was recently implemented to improve security.
Ksander said this possible security breach was found and corrected under the new security program.