The Final Four of College Data Breach Issues

Sue Marquette Poremba
Slide Show

Eight Ways to Prevent Data Breaches

Perimeter CTO Kevin Prince has kindly offered up several tips for preventing a data breach.

If you are following the NCAA basketball tournament, aka March Madness, you know that the tournament's overall number-one pick, Ohio State, fell short of playing in this weekend's Final Four.


However, Ohio State came out on top of a different, more dubious, "Final Four." TeamSHATTER, the research arm for Application Security, Inc., found that Ohio State had the most breached records among higher education in 2010. Other 2010 "Final Four" schools include: Valdosta State University, University of North Florida and Buena Vista University.


Last year, TeamSHATTER released the report "An Examination of Database Breaches at Higher Education Institutions," which investigates the serious problem of data breaches in colleges and universities. Higher education is a treasure trove for cyber criminals. As the report stated:

Higher ed institutions have become a predominant target for cyber criminals because of the substantial amount and distinct type of data they possess. Databases at colleges and universities store a wealth of personally identifiable information (PII). This information includes names, addresses, financial information, credit card numbers, social security numbers, and healthcare records of employees, students and parents. With major colleges enrolling tens of thousands of students a year, along with the large amount of employees involved with running an institution, a university or college could be housing potentially billions of records containing PII.

TeamSHATTER decided to point out the problem of college data breaches in a manner that most people can relate -- in the form of a tournament bracket. Unlike the basketball tournament, this isn't a bracket that anyone wants to be on. However, the action is not slowing down. As TeamSHATTER reported:

So far, in 2011 (as of today), there have been 14 reported breaches, involving 81,835 records and the "leader" thus far is the University of South Carolina, with 31,000 reported records breached. Will the University of South Carolina make the 2011 "Final Four" or will history prevail and yield far greater breach number in terms of records?

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Add Comment      Leave a comment on this blog post
Apr 1, 2011 1:55 PM Lindsey Niedzielski Lindsey Niedzielski  says:

Excellent post Sue. I also think that college students are an incredibly vulnerable population because they don't know how or have no motivation to check into their credit etc. We have bookmarked this post on our community for IM professionals (www.openmethodology.org). Keep up the good work!!

Jul 9, 2011 11:30 AM Octavian Paler Octavian Paler  says:

I think that it is important to know every detail that concerns your security and to prevent if you can any similar acts that could be performed to you.

I have always wanted to help people to cope with their diseases and in order to do that i decided that i should learn more.

So I decided to go to  

health information technology programs to learn how to code,update, and organize electronic files and records. That will help me become a Healthcare Information Technician that will be able to help those in need.

Jan 6, 2012 4:17 PM Zef Richard Zef Richard  says:

Cyber criminals give everyone headaches, don't they? I think it's actually easier to deal with the real criminals then the cyber ones, at least a homeland security training can help in the first mentioned situation. Things don't look good at all, I mean targeting higher education institutions? Yes, it's that bad!


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