Information on Internet Intrusion at WSU

August 16, 2004

Background on Incident:

Computer security managers detected an abnormal amount of network traffic involving communications with computers in Europe. These abnormalities were traced to a computer in the Financial Aid office that had been unlawfully accessed by computer intruders.

An electronic forensic investigation of the machine uncovered programs and files remotely installed that hackers used to illegally distribute copies of DVD movies. The program and movie files were discovered on the same hard drive where sensitive personal and financial aid data were stored. This machine is used exclusively to transmit federal financial aid applications to the Department of Education in Washington, D.C.

University's response:

The university took immediate steps to secure the specific computer and the machine was removed from the network. An electronic forensic investigation was performed on the machine.

Notification letters are being sent out to all students whose information was on this server. The letter briefly explains the incident and provides information on additional resources to help individuals prevent and respond to identity theft.

The university also plans to take additional steps to safeguard all systems.

WSU has contacted the FBI about this incident. The university has also provided the IP addresses of machines in Europe involved in this case to international computer security organizations in hopes of preventing future

attacks by these parties.

 

The investigation is ongoing.

What You Can Do:

Currently, the institution has no verification that these financial aid files were touched. However, since there is a possibility that these files were accessed, personal information may have been compromised which could lead to identity theft.

To prevent or mitigate any problems, individuals should review a copy of their credit report for any suspicious activity.

If you believe your information may have been compromised, you can request that a no-cost fraud alert be placed on your files with the credit bureaus. (To understand the effects of a fraud alert visit www.idtheftcenter.org/fraudalerts.shtml.) In doing so, the credit bureaus will then send you a free credit report. The credit bureaus are:

Equifax (800) 525-6285

Experian (888) 397-3742

TransUnion (800) 680-7289

You need only contact one credit bureau and they will contact the other two on your behalf.

If you are unable to use the automated system to receive a credit report and put a fraud alert on your credit records, you may write to the following address and give them your contact information and Transunion will take care of it for you.

TransUnion
Attn: Consumer Relations
P. O. Box 1000
Chester, PA  19022

In addition you can contact the Social Security Administration (800) 772-1213 or visit https://s044a90.ssa.gov/apps6/isss/bp-7004home.jsp and order a copy of your earnings and benefits statement to check if anyone has used your social security number to obtain a job or avoid paying taxes.

Additional Resources:

Web sites about identity theft:

Identity Theft Center (http://www.idtheftcenter.org/)

Federal Trade Commission (www.consumer.gov/idtheft/recovering_idt.html#15)

Privacy Rights (www.privacyrights.org)

Identity Theft Links (http://www.privacyrights.org/identity.htm)


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