Michigan State University confirms data breach of server containing 400,000 student, staff records (Updated)

WXYZ reports:

Michigan Sate University is confirming that someone breached a database that contains around 400,000 records containing personal information.

The breach happened on November 13.

According to MSU, that information “included names, Social Security numbers, MSU identification numbers, and in some cases, date of birth of some current and former students and employees. It did not contain passwords, financial, academic, contact, gift or health information.”

MSU says they have confirmed that 449 of records were accessed, before the records were taken offline within 24 hours of the breach.

Read more on WXYZ.

NBC reports that those affected include “faculty, staff and students who were employed by MSU between 1970 and November 13, 2016, or were students between 1991 and 2016.”

This appears to be MSU’s second hack in a matter of weeks. On October 26, @Mys7erioN was credited with hacking MSU in a paste on Pastebin that has since been removed. From that paste:

Michigan State of University – HACKED!

http://pastebin.com/NRsw2MDW 293 entries
http://pastebin.com/SZKNRVJj 310 entries
http://pastebin.com/hg4YtRbH 226 entries
http://pastebin.com/DQPSzQCX 534 entries
http://pastebin.com/JJ2R5Xrm  (LOGINS> <—-

The data were from tables named gelstaff_. Gelstaff probably refers to MSU’s Games for Entertainment and Learning (GEL) Lab. The data in those pastes did not include the kinds of information in the November 13 breach and appeared to be attendees’ names, email addresses, and telephone numbers. One file contained usernames, encrypted passwords, and email addresses, some of which were from msu.edu.

Update 1: An MSU spokesperson says there was an extortion attempt:

Michigan State University spokesman Jason Cody tell us that the hacker or hackers asked the university for money.

Cody did not say how much money the hacker or hackers asked for, but did say that MSU did not pay it.

This is not the first time I’ve heard of an extortion attempt with a school data breach, but it’s still really uncommon in terms of publicly disclosed breaches. I’m glad the university didn’t pay the demand or it would just reinforce the attacker(s) or others to try this with other schools.

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