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Mistake Puts Hopkins Grad Students At Risk Of Having ID Stolen

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Rochelle Ritchie joined WJZ Eyewitness News in June 2012. Prio...
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BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Johns Hopkins University officials admit to a serious mistake that put thousands of graduate students at risk of having their identities stolen.

Rochelle Ritchie explains.

It’s a mistake that could have cost former students of Johns Hopkins University their identities after university officials say an employee mistakenly loaded files onto a server accessible by the Internet with the names and Social Security numbers of 2,166 graduate students.

“As a student here, I have a lot of financial aid assistance. It’s really important, my Social Security number, and giving that away is a little dangerous, too,” said Diego Zegarra. “But it’s something necessary to be done.”

Officials with the university say the files were meant to go on an internal server and belonged to students who attended the Homewood campus between 2007 to 2009.

Officials with Johns Hopkins University say, as soon as they realized the mistake, the files were immediately taken offline. A security audit revealed there were no other files found on the web.

This isn’t the first time Hopkins has dealt with security and student information. In March, a person claiming to be part of the hacker group “Anonymous” stole the phone numbers and email addresses of engineering students. No credit cards, Social Security numbers, or birth dates were involved.

Hopkins is not the only school to deal with such security issues. The names and Social Security numbers of more than 280,000 students, alumni and staff at the University of Maryland, College Park were obtained by hackers.

Students at Hopkins say, while the news is concerning, they are confident school officials are on top of it.

“It’s not like a huge deal, it’s not something I worry about,” said Arianna Ionescu. “I think the school is really hyper-aware actually of students and their safety and well-being and they react pretty accordingly to any security threat we’ve ever had.”

University officials say they do not believe anyone with malicious intent gained access to the students’ information.

Students who had their information exposed were offered one year of identity protection, as well as credit monitoring.

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