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  (Source: nwfdailynews.com)
Almost 300,000 records were stolen

Nearly 300,000 college students and faculty across the state of Florida were targeted in a security breach, resulting in the loss of confidential information.

Officials first thought the hack only affected staff from Northwest Florida State College, but later discovered that it has spanned the state, impacting both students and staff.

Approximately 200,000 of the stolen records came from students who were eligible for Florida's Bright Futures scholarships for the 2005-2006 and 2006-2007 school years. The hackers stole information like names, birthdates, ethnicity, gender and Social Security numbers.

Another 76,000 stolen records belonged to former and current Northwest Florida State College students, and 3,000 more hacked records belonged to Northwest Florida State College employees.

Officials believe the hacks took place between late May 2012 and late last month. Many employees and students have become victims of identity theft, where the hackers obtained items like credit cards, loans and bank accounts.

"We speculate this was a professional, coordinated attack by one or more hackers," said Ty Handy, Northwest Florida State College president. "I recognize that this is a significant hassle for those whose information is used to commit identity theft. I was one of the first seven or eight to be hit personally and I have spent several hours on the phone working with my bank and others to protect myself. It is not an enjoyable experience and for that I apologize.

Federal, state and local authorities have launched an investigation into the breach.

Sources: CNET , Fox News





"This is about the Internet.  Everything on the Internet is encrypted. This is not a BlackBerry-only issue. If they can't deal with the Internet, they should shut it off." -- RIM co-CEO Michael Lazaridis
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