By Sharon Gaudin
May 24, 2007
The University of Colorado at Boulder said sensitive information on
44,998 students was exposed because a worm attacked the network through
an un-patched bug in Symantec's anti-virus software.
A server in the university's College of Arts and Sciences' Academic
Advising Center held the names and Social Security numbers of students
enrolled at CU-Boulder from 2002 to the present, according to an online
On May 12, the university's IT security investigators discovered that
the worm entered the server through the vulnerability, which the IT
staff had failed to patch, the university reported. Investigators said
they did not believe the hacker behind the worm was after the personal
information, but instead was using the flaw as an entryway to other
computers on the university network.
"The server's security settings were not properly configured and its
sensitive data had not been fully protected," said Bobby Schnabel,
CU-Boulder vice provost for technology, in a written statement. "Through
a combination of human and technical errors, these personal data were
exposed, although we have no evidence that they were extracted."
A Symantec spokesman told InformationWeek that they have been trying to
get in touch with the university's IT team but have not yet talked to
them to get details about the attack or even to find out what
vulnerability was involved. "We hate to see any customer with a
problem," he said. "We encourage customers to post patches as soon as
Todd Gleeson, a dean CU-Boulder, said in a statement that he wants the
College of Arts and Sciences IT operations to be placed under the direct
control of the university's larger IT department. He said all of the
students affected by the breach are being notified through letters
mailed to their homes.
"We have also taken steps to ensure that all sensitive personal data has
been removed from our Academic Advising Center servers," said Gleeson.
"I want to assure our past and present students that we have taken
strong measures to protect our advising center computers and our
students' personal information."
Students who are looking for more information about protecting
themselves following a data exposure can go to the advisory Web site.
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