The Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech) on Tuesday revealed that “an unknown outside entity” had gained unauthorized access to a database storing the details of 1.3 million individuals.
A forensic investigation is being conducted to determine the extent of the breach, but the organization says the names, addresses, social security numbers, dates of birth, and internal identification numbers of up to 1.3 million students and student applicants, current and former faculty, and staff may have been compromised.
Georgia Tech said the exposed data was located in a central database associated with a web application.
The intrusion was discovered on March 21 after developers noticed a “significant performance impact” that later turned out to be a result of the breach. An analysis of the incident revealed that hackers had gained access as early as December 14, 2018, by exploiting a vulnerability in a web application. The university said the flaw was patched.
Georgia Tech has started notifying potentially impacted individuals, but it’s still working on determining who exactly is affected. The organization may decide to offer free protection services to those impacted by the breach.
The U.S. Department of Education and University System of Georgia (USG) have also been notified.
This could turn out to be one of the biggest data breaches suffered by a university in the United States.
While it took Georgia Tech several months to discover this intrusion, it could have been far worse. Yale University, for example, reported last year that it had become aware of a breach that took place between 2008 and 2009. Hackers had gained access to names, social security numbers and other data belonging to roughly 119,000 individuals affiliated with the organization.