ISU's data breach similar to Kirkwood College's in 2013 - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

ISU's data breach similar to Kirkwood College's in 2013

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If you were enrolled at Iowa State University from 1995-2012, your Social Security number might be in the hands of online hackers.

Technology servers were hacked on the Ames campus, exposing almost 30,000 ISU students' personal information.

It was just last year when Kirkwood College in Cedar Rapids experienced a similar data breach.

John Neff, the associate vice president of technology services at Kirkwood College tell me their data breach was only over an eight year span, ISU's 17 years, but he said it's the university's duty to take immediate action.

"As higher education institutions, we're more vulnerable," said Neff. "We went in and we reverse engineered how the attack occurred, and it allowed us to understand how that was done."

Neff says sophisticated hackers gained access to an online database at Kirkwood containing the personal information of 125,000 of their students.

He says in attacks like this, it's vital that universities make sure students are protected, and letting them know that their information might be in the hands of cyber crooks.

"One of the things we do, we have technology approaches to this, but we also have kind of a human approach to this from a training standpoint we provide training for every individual and its mandatory for each one of our employees on how they deal with personal information," said Neff.

The ISU data breach impacts students enrolled in computer science, world languages, along with material science and engineering between 1995 and 2012.

He says Kirkwood immediately took an active approach by not only using their internal staff, but working with outside security firms to look a future improvements so it doesn't happen again.

Neff says colleges have to have open access for visitors and students, so they're the most vulnerable.

However, he says this can happen to any one and any business.

"How do we stop the hackers, we we work together," said Neff. "We're all in this together it's not ISU and look at them and they didn't do something right and this happened. No, this is very common this happens in business, this happens in higher ed. We don't want this to happen."

ISU officials do not believe the personal information was a target because there's no evidence that any of those files were actually accessed.

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