Around 80,000 students, staff members and alumni have potentially been affected by a data leak at UC Berkeley after a hacker broke into a computer system, according to Fox News. School officials announced on Friday that while there is no evidence as of yet that any of the data has been used, the 50 percent of students and 65 percent of staff affected should be on alert for unusual activity.
The cyberattack, which occurred in December but was only made public last week, occurred when a hacker exploited a security flaw in order to gain access to computers that are a part of the Berkeley Financial System, according to NBC Bay Area News. Social security numbers and bank account information are among the data affected, with students who receive financial aid and staff who made claims for reimbursement through the system being most at risk.
"The security and privacy of the personal information provided to the university is of great importance to us," UC Berkeley's chief information security officer Paul Rivers said, according to Berkeley News. "We regret this occurred and have taken additional measures to better safeguard that information."
Those who may be affected have been offered a free year of credit monitoring and identity theft insurance as compensation for the leak, as well as resources to aid them in noticing any potential misuse of their data. Rivers said that patching the software that allowed the breach can take weeks and that "we need to be even faster about getting these [fixes] deployed," according to the San Francisco Gate.
Rivers declined to give too much information about the timescale of the fixes or how exactly they would be accomplished, as he fears accidentally helping other hackers attack systems in a similar way. The attack is thought to be the third most significant of its kind in recent memory and highlights the importance and difficulty in properly protecting academic computer networks.