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Cybersecurity expert says little risk from Butler data breach

1/07/2014 by


A hacker may have stolen information related to about 163,000 students, faculty, staff, alumni and applicants of Butler University, but a cybersecurity expert says those affected should not worry too much.

“You might think (your Social Security number) is a secret,” said Fred Cate, director of Indiana University’s Center for Applied Cybersecurity Research, “but it’s the worst-kept secret in the world.”

Yes, he says there is some risk in a data breach. “It’s just not a nuclear device like people talk about it being. If it were, every time you saw a breach of 100,000 people’s data, you would expect to see close to 100,000 cases of identity theft instead of about two out of 100,000.”

Police contacted Butler officials on May 28 to alert them to an investigation of possible identity theft involving about 163,000 people with ties to Butler, according to documents provided to The Indianapolis Star by university spokesman Marc Allan. Butler President Jim Danko warned those potentially affected in a Thursday letter.

The investigation originated in California, the letter said. The “suspect had in his possession a flash drive containing the information of certain Butler University employees.”

Further investigation turned up indications of “unauthorised hacking” into Butler’s computer network between November 2013 and May 2014, according to the letter.

“Third-party computer forensics experts” verified the apparent hacking, Danko wrote, before the university sent out notification letters to those affected.

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