NWFSC hacking case widens to include 200,000 students statewide

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FILE PHOTO | Northwest Florida Daily News

Published: Wednesday, October 10, 2012 at 05:46 PM.

NICEVILLE — The Northwest Florida State College hacking incident has widened to include the personal information of over 200,000 students from across the state.

Officials reported Wednesday they had discovered that the breach included data on 76,500 of their current and former college students as well as 200,000 students from across the state who were eligible for Bright Futures scholarships.

In addition to the student information, about 3,200 employees had their data compromised. The information of at least 50 of the employees had been misused by Monday when the hacking was discovered, according to school officials.

An entity or person outside the college is believed to be responsible for hacking into a directory on one of the school's servers some time between May 21 and Sept. 24.

One of the data files that was accessed included information on all students eligible for Bright Futures scholarships across the state during the 2005-06 and 2006-07 school years. The file included students' names, Social Security numbers, dates of birth, ethnicities and genders.

The NWFSC student and employee information that was breached included names, addresses, birth dates and social security numbers.

For employees, their bank routing and account numbers used for direct deposit may have also been compromised.

The college is working with the state Department of Education's Division of Florida Colleges to formally notify all students impacted by the data breach.

While the incident is under investigation, individuals who notice improper use of their Social Security numbers and believe they may have been victims of identity theft should contact the Federal Trade Commission at 1-877-ID-THEFT or www.ftc.gov/idtheft. Those affected may also call their local sheriff's office and file a police report of identity theft and should keep a copy of the report, according to college officials.

Anyone whose information may have been compromised can place a free fraud alert on their credit file. That will notify creditors to contact the individual before allowing a new account to be opened in their name. Call any one of the three major credit reporting agencies to place an alert (Experian at 888-397-3742, Equifax at 888-766-0008 or TransUnion at 800-680-7289).

Information about the hacking incident is also available at www.nwfsc.edu/security.

Contact Daily News Staff Writer Lauren Sage Reinlie at 850-315-4443 or lreinlie@nwfdailynews.com. Follow her on Twitter @LaurenRnwfdn.

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