North Dakota State College of Science Information Technology Services department has been alerted to malware activity on a number of NDSCS-owned computers in Wahpeton and Fargo and has taken immediate steps to ramp up security on its systems.
Personal information such as names, Social Security numbers and mailing addresses of more than 15,000 current and former students and employees were contained on some of the affected computers. Those whose information was found are in the process of being notified.
“We have found no evidence that any unauthorized individual accessed or is using the personal data,” said Cloy Tobola, NDSCS Chief Information Officer. “However we encourage all those affected to remain diligent in monitoring their personal information and to notify local law enforcement if they suspect any inappropriate or suspicious activity.”
The malware was discovered on September 1, 2014 and immediate action was taken to secure NDSCS systems. This included conducting a thorough internal investigation by NDSCS and North Dakota University System Information Technology experts. Law enforcement has been contacted, and key systems have been sent to a national forensic organization to confirm the analysis.
A toll-free hotline has been set up to answer questions and can be reached by calling 1-877-615-3755. The Call Center will open on Friday, October 10, 2014 at 8 a.m., CST, and will operate between the hours of 8 a.m. – 8 p.m., CST, Monday through Saturday for the foreseeable future.
As an added precaution, NDSCS has arranged to provide 12 months of identity protection to those affected at no cost to them. The College has also established a web page that provides more details about the incident. It can be accessed at www.ndscs.edu/data.
“We are committed to the privacy of student and employee information,” said NDSCS President John Richman, Ph.D. “We are continually reviewing our practices and processes to enhance the security of sensitive information. This incident serves as a reminder that we need to be even more vigilant in those efforts.”