Online security breach hits Charlotte college campus, officials warn

Published: Feb. 15, 2012 at 11:45 PM EST|Updated: Mar. 16, 2012 at 10:45 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - School officials say an online security breach has hit a Charlotte college campus and they are still trying to figure out how much information was potentially risked.

According to the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, the breach hit the UNC Charlotte campus and put information for students and staff at risk, they were alerted Wednesday afternoon.

An email alert was sent out to students and staff saying the university experienced a "potentially significant data exposure of its Information Systems."

Javon Hargrove, a student, saw the email and said it's all his fellow students are talking about.

"I don't understand it, he said. "I'm just playing it by ear I guess to try to make sure it gets resolved and my information wasn't stolen."

University officials told WBTV they are still investigating to determine the full extent of the exposure, but do know that information was available on the internet that should not have been.  They believe the breach was possibly a result of human error.

They discovered the breach last month but told WBTV they waited to inform students until they knew more.

Hassi Payne, a freshman, is glad they waited.

"It's definitely good they waited, I think, because it, they kind of got more of sense what was going on so the public didn't freak out,"she said.

"We have corrected the issues that we are aware of," Jay Dominick, Vice Chancellor of Information Technology said. "But we are still conducting a full assessment."

The university says they don't have specific evidence yet to know with any certainty what was compromised, if anything.

"To that end, the University has engaged a leading firm skilled in computer forensics investigation," Dominick said in the email alert. "While the University has taken aggressive action to address the incident, this firm will perform further analysis to determine if any data were wrongfully accessed or remain vulnerable."

Still Hargrove said he is not taking any chances.

"I've actually changed, like, all of my passwords for the websites through campus so hopefully that will help," he said.

WBTV has learned that officials plan to notify any person whose personal information was accessed without authorization.

The university as created a website where it will post information and have setup a phone hotline at 855-205-6937 (toll-free).

"I also want to assure you that the University is taking this issue very seriously," Dominick continued. "As we learn more about it, we will share more with you. On behalf of my entire organization, I apologize for the mistake and promise that we will do everything in our power to ensure that it does not happen again."

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