Hilarious Housing & Dining Social Security Number Mishap
Written by Bwog Staff
One recent grad forwarded Bwog the following email, which contains some bad news for the unluckiest 5,000 of you. Apparently, housing information that included names and social security numbers was accidentally posted online by a former student employee in February 2007.
Housing & Dining is very sorry, and has even bought you and your probably-stolen social security numbers an apology gift to make it up to you: “As an additional precaution, Columbia has arranged for you to receive a free two-year subscription to a credit monitoring service, Identity Guard CreditProtectX3SM. This service will provide you with a copy of your credit report, monitor your credit files at all three major credit bureaus and notify you of certain suspicious activities that could indicate identity theft.”
Full email after the jump.
UPDATE 11:32 PM: One Bwog operative calling himself “Person who’s SSN was exposed” has located via Google cache the Excel document that used to contain the SSNs and names in question. According to the aforementioned operative, the Excel document was created apparently in relation to “a HW for CS4733, aka ‘Computational Aspects of Robotics.'” Also, the Spec has published the story.
UPDATE 11:11 AM: A Bwog writer and SSN victim just called Student Services and the email is not, in fact, a scam. Sorry folks.
June 10, 2008
[Home address of recipient redacted]
On June 3, Columbia University’s Housing and Dining department was
informed that one archival database file containing the housing
information of approximately 5,000 current and former undergraduate
students was found on a Google-hosted website. Google removed this file,
at our request, that same day.
Columbia Public Safety investigators have concluded that this security
breach was unintentional. No financial data was included in the file in
question, and we have no evidence of wrongdoing or identity theft. It
appears that the file was inadvertently posted by a former student
employee in February 2007. Nevertheless, it is important for you to be
aware that your name and Social Security Number were included in the file.
We are very sorry for this occurrence.
Information security is a serious issue for us, as we know it is for you.
Columbia University is continually strengthening its measures to protect
Social Security Numbers where they are required in our systems. Housing &
Dining manually eliminated Social Security Numbers from its online room
selection process and contracts in April 2007. Further, in spring 2008,
Columbia Housing and Dining implemented a new software system to manage
and improve the housing assignment, contract, and billing processes which
also does not use Social Security Numbers. Unfortunately, this file was
uploaded prior to when these changes were made.
As an additional precaution, Columbia has arranged for you to receive a
free two-year subscription to a credit monitoring service, Identity Guard
CreditProtectX3SM. This service will provide you with a copy of your
credit report, monitor your credit files at all three major credit bureaus
(Equifax, Experian and Trans Union) and notify you of certain suspicious
activities that could indicate identity theft. You will receive additional
information about enrolling in this service in the next week.
If you do not wish to enroll in this service, you may still choose to
activate a fraud alert with the major credit bureaus, or periodically
request a credit report to look for potential irregularities and ensure
that no new accounts have been activated in your name. Each agency has an
automated fraud alert process. If you activate a fraud alert, the agency
you contact will notify the other two agencies so that those agencies also
can place fraud alerts on your accounts. In addition, each agency will
provide you a copy of your credit report at no cost. The contact
information for the credit agencies is as follows:
We sincerely apologize for the inconvenience this has caused you. Please
know that we take the protection of your identity seriously. We are
confident that the changes we have made since this file was posted have
made all students and alumni safer.
Student Auxiliary & Business Services”