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Security breach revealed to former PSU-Altoona students

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Saturday, Dec. 29, 2012, 12:01 a.m.

Penn State University officials on Friday began notifying former students of a security breach on a computer server that contained 1,406 Social Security numbers for enrollees at the Altoona campus before 2005.

An operator at Penn State's call center said officials were alerted Sept. 10 that a server at University Park containing the records was infected with malware, software that allows it to communicate with unauthorized outside networks.

Techs took the server offline when officials became aware of the issue.

“We have no reason to believe that this information was accessed by unauthorized individuals, but those affected should remain alert in the event that an individual attempts to use their identity,” said Sarah Morrow, chief privacy officer for the university. “Even when theft is only a remote possibility, we alert anyone who may have been affected and arm them with information and steps to take to mitigate their risk.”

Penn State notified people through letters that include contact information if someone has questions.

Pennsylvania's 2006 Breach of Personal Information Notification Act requires any business, organization or government agency that maintains computerized records with personal information to notify people “without unreasonable delay” when a security breach occurs.

Morrow declined to say why it took more than three months for the university to begin telling former students their personal information may have been compromised.

Penn State officials advised people to call, toll-free, 855-842-8351.

Debra Erdley is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-320-7996 or

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