6,300 USC students warned about data breach

ashain@thestate.comJune 28, 2013 

The University of South Carolina sent letters this week to 6,300 students whose personal information, including Social Security numbers, could have been on a laptop stolen from the school.

The laptop used to generate and grade tests in four physics courses went missing from a locked room at the Jones Physical Sciences Building in late April, USC spokesman Wes Hickman said.

The university needed about two months to gather contact information for students who took the physics classes from 2010 through 2013 about the possibility their information could be exposed, Hickman said. USC officials do not know if information belonging to all students from that time period was on the laptop.

The password-protected computer included names and Social Security numbers of students who took the classes, Hickman said.

USC is moving away from using Social Security numbers for students in favor of a unique identifier, Hickman said.

More than 87,000 records belonging to USC students and employees have been exposed in seven reported breaches during the past seven years.

USC is in the midst of a six-year, $75 million overhaul of the school’s 1970s-era software and establishing a new security program that goes into place next year.

The school will nearly double the five employees working on cyber security.

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