TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Colleges Struggle to Combat Identity Thieves

Colleges Struggle to Combat Identity Thieves

Monty Solomon (
Sun, 28 Aug 2005 02:36:56 -0400

By Reuters | August 21, 2005

LOS ANGELES -- Despite their image as leafy enclaves of higher
learning shielded from the real world, universities across the United
States are finding themselves on the front lines of the battle against
identity theft.

With their huge databases, universities may rival financial
institutions as attractive targets for the crime, estimated to affect
over 9 million Americans a year at the cost of more than $50 billion,
specialists said.

Nearly half of the publicized incidents of data breach since January
occurred at universities, according to the San Diego-based Identity
Theft Resource Center.

The focus on campus computer security comes as pending legislation in
Congress seeks to address on a national level the growing problem of
identity theft, in which criminals steal personal information, so they
can impersonate the victim to obtain credit and drain money from
financial accounts.

In academia, major institutions such as the University of California
system and smaller private schools from Tufts to Stanford are equally
affected as hackers exploit computer vulnerabilities to access data
and laptops get stolen.

The problem is hardly new, but available data are incomplete.
California, for example, only recently started to require disclosure
after a data breach. Some specialists say that universities only
contribute to 20 percent of all breaches nationally.

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