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June 16th, 2008

Columbia University Students Private Details Available On Google-Hosted Website For 16 Months

Private details and social security numbers of 5,000 Columbia University students had been searchable online for the last 16 months. Students received an e-mail message on Tuesday night from the vice president of student auxiliary and business services, Scott Wright, explaining that in February 2007, a student employee had posted a database of students’ housing information on a Google-hosted Web site.

On June 3, Columbia University’s Housing and Dining department was informed that one archival database file containing housing information of current and former undergraduate students. It appears that the file was inadvertently posted by a former student employee in February 2007. Upon university request, Google immediately removed this file.

Columbia Public Safety investigators have concluded that this security breach was unintentional. Columbia University would not identify the student, saying only that the person had worked in the university’s housing office. A similar leak occurred in April 2007, when the university noticed that three databases containing students’ addresses and Social Security numbers were online.

Several students created an online petition and posted it to the main campus Web log, demanding that the university investigate the former employee and issue a report explaining how security will be increased. The petition address is

No financial data was included in the file in question, and there is no evidence of identity theft. Phone number for questions or comments is 1(888) 882-7331. Email: [email protected].

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More on CyberInsecure:
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  • Private Data Exposed By Hackers In University Of Texas At Dallas
  • Personal Details Of More Than 11,000 Former And Current University Of Florida Students Found On School Website
  • Southern Connecticut State University Warns Of Data Breach After Web Defacement
  • Three Computers With Personal Data Compromised At The University of Colorado

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