UC Berkeley Breach: Universities Increasingly Targeted By Cyberattacks

by Henry Gass, Christian Science Monitor

UC Berkeley tower

John Loo/Flickr

The University of California at Berkeley is investigating a cyberattack on a university computer system that holds financial data for 80,000 people, from students and alumni to faculty and vendors.

The San Francisco Bay area university said on Friday that there is no evidence any information has been stolen, but that it has notified potential victims of the data breach, which include about half of the school’s current students, two-thirds of its active employees, and over 10,000 vendors who work with the school.

The attack on the system, which stores social security and bank account numbers, occurred in late December when the university was patching a security flaw in its financial management system, school officials said.

The university frequently identifies similar hacking attempts, the school added. Indeed, the hack at UC Berkeley is just the latest in a series of large-scale cyberattacks on educational institutions. The combination of large stores of important data – from personal financial data to research and patents held by researchers – and often weak online defenses mean colleges and universities are attractive targets for hackers around the world, security professionals say.

From 2013 to 2015, 550 universities reported some kind of data breach, NBC reported last fall, and in 2014 only the health care and retail sectors reported more security breaches than the education sector, according to Symantec’s Internet Security Threat Report.

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