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Universities, Lawmakers Targets of Security Breaches, ID Theft

Even security experts fall victim.

While public attention has been drawn to high-profile cyberattacks on private companies such as Target, other entities, such as universities, are not immune, as Government Technology reported last week. And this week, the list of public-sector targets continues to grow. 

North Dakota University reported a server breach that exposed the names and Social Security numbers of about 300,000 students, former students and faculty. While the breach was spotted a month ago, the university delayed reporting it to those most likely to be affected while conducting an investigation to determine what exactly happened.

And in another incident, reports from a payroll processor – which included names, addresses, SSNs, birthdates, bank accounts and routing numbers -- went missing from Point Park University in downtown Pittsburgh.

Ironically, several members of the House Subcommittee On Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit revealed that they themselves had been hacked and their identities stolen. Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.), and Rep. Robert Pittenger (R-N.C.) both reported incidents, according to The Hill. Even William Noonan, the Department of Homeland Security deputy special agent in charge of cybercrime investigations, said that he, too, was a data breach victim.

As Pittenger said on his website, “Most Americans are unaware our financial industry, defense agencies, and critical infrastructure systems endure thousands of cyber-attacks each day.”

So while being attacked is nothing new, being successfully attacked will leave a lasting mark.

Wayne E. Hanson served as a writer and editor with e.Republic from 1989 to 2013, having worked for several business units including Government Technology magazine, the Center for Digital Government, Governing, and Digital Communities. Hanson was a juror from 1999 to 2004 with the Stockholm Challenge and Global Junior Challenge competitions in information technology and education.