Penn State’s anti-virus software detected a possible compromise of a College of Earth and Mineral Sciences faculty member’s laptop Friday.
The laptop, which was recently brought in from a faculty member’s home, contained up to 2,500 Social Security numbers of former students from the classes of 1998, 2002 and 2004, said Doug Stanfield, director of Internet Communications.
Penn State previously utilized Social Security numbers as student identifiers for classes and exams prior to issuing the nine-digit numbers they began using in 2005, according to a release issued by Penn State Live.
All university computers are regularly scanned for personally identifiable information in an attempt to make the computers safer, said Penn State Live editor Reidar Jensen.
Jensen said the university uses an “advanced intrusion detection system” to identify possible breaches in the security system. As soon as a breach is detected, the computer is removed from the university server and the information is removed, he said.
In addition, the university is also required to notify all possible people whose information may have been compromised, in accordance with the Pennsylvania Breach of Personal Information Notification Act, which went into effect in 2006, Jensen said.
Penn State sent letters on Friday to all individuals whose Social Security numbers may have been accessed, Stanfield said.
Stanfield said the university has not been contacted by any individuals regarding the potentially compromised data as of press time Tuesday.