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UC Apologizes for Internet Security Breach

March 13, 2004|Rebecca Trounson | Times Staff Writer

A malfunctioning website may have allowed the Social Security numbers, addresses and other personal information of more than 2,000 University of California applicants to be viewed by other students during this year's application process, UC officials said Friday.

So far, the university knows of 108 applicants who definitely had some information displayed to other students, UC spokeswoman Lavonne Luquis said. Letters apprising those students of the lapse were sent out Thursday, she said. On Friday the university sent letters to 2,048 other applicants whose information may also have been disclosed, the spokeswoman said.

The data displayed may have included names, phone numbers, birth dates, test scores, citizenship status and e-mail addresses, in addition to Social Security numbers, she said. It did not include financial material or admissions decisions.

UC officials apologized Friday, saying they were aware of the seriousness of the problem in an era of rampant identity theft. Privacy has become an increasing concern for universities as more information about students and employees is stored in centralized electronic databases.

"We are very distressed about this situation and hope students will accept our apologies for any concern it may cause them," Dennis Galligani, UC's associate vice president for student academic services, said in a statement.

Luquis said it was the first such problem with the UC electronic applications process, which was launched in 1998.

The problem occurred between Nov. 11 and March 1 on a UC website where students applying for admission can sign in to update their applications. Access to the site is limited to students who have user IDs and passwords, but some who logged on during the period were mistakenly shown applications belonging to others, Luquis said.

She urged students who were concerned about the issue and wanted to learn whether they were among those affected to call (800) 523-2048 from within California or (925) 808-2181 from out of state.

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