Kirkwood: Hackers accessed 8 years of student applications - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Kirkwood: Hackers accessed 8 years of student applications

Kirkwood Community College Kirkwood Community College

Hackers gained access to more than eight years of student application information at Kirkwood Community College, including Social Security numbers, on March 13, according to school officials.

The college in Cedar Rapids sent letters to inform those who's information had been potentially hacked. Campus officials say as many as 125,000 people are impacted.

Hackers used an international IP address to unlawfully access the website on March 13, garnering information dating all the way back to February of 2005, according to Kirkwood officials.

That information includes names, birth dates, race, contact information and Social Security numbers, but not financial information.

"We are helping those who may have experienced the theft of confidential data," said Associate Vice President of Technology Services Jon Neff in a written statement. "The college has personally contacted those who may have been affected to offer assistance. The free services will include personal assistance from identity theft and restoration experts who will listen, answer questions and offer expertise regarding concerns from those affected."

Kirkwood officials said they want to be transparent in this process. They waited nearly 30 days to inform those impacted because they wanted to give correct information. According to officials at Kirkwood, the industry standard is 30-60 days. Kirkwood aimed to alert people in less than 30.

The good news is Kirkwood is not aware of any identity theft.

Mari Araujo is studying liberal arts at Kirkwood Community College. She was surprised to learn about the hack.

"It's really weird to have that kind of information accessed, especially your school, because it's supposed to be like secure information," said Araujo.

The college is working with local law enforcement and the FBI.

"We were devastated because we had really good measures in place," said Katie Fisher, Vice President of Student Services. "Unfortunately what we've learned it talking to the FBI is that there's a lot of companies and organizations with really good security measures in place and hackers are still successful in getting in sometimes."

 Officials aren't sure if the hackers stole records or just accessed them. To be on the safe side, they mailed letters on Friday to the up to 125,000 people potentially at risk.

"I'm not worried but it's something to think about," said Araujo.

The college hired a global security firm to figure out how the hackers gained access to the site and to design new security measures. Officials wouldn't specify what those measures were because they want to make sure the information stays secure.

The breach only impacts people who applied to take college credit courses, which are what you would think of as traditional college courses. Continuing education applicants were not impacted.

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