UNC data breach may affect 6,000 individuals

Dec 16th, 2013 / Category: Managed File Transfer

Once more highlighting the need for high quality secure file transfer solutions, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill recently revealed that it has experienced a data breach. According to preliminary reports, this incident may have affected more than 6,000 current and former employees, students and vendors. Among the information potentially exposed were Social Security numbers, dates of birth, addresses and names.

Accidental exposure
According to UNC's website, the data breach occurred as the result of an employee error dating back to July 30. At that time, a worker performing routine maintenance inadvertently deactivated safeguards that prevented these sensitive files from being accessible to the general public.

WITN reported that this state of affairs was not discovered by a university official until November, at which point the safeguards were quickly reinstated. However, that leaves more than three months during which time the school's sensitive data was readily available to unauthorized personnel. While there have been no concrete reports of identity theft or other illicit activity involving this information, it is still very possible that such incidents may emerge.

The news source noted that UNC has begun the process of notifying potentially affected individuals and will advise these people as to what stakes they can take to detect any fraudulent activity and take preventative action.

Too much file sharing
This incident highlights several key concepts within the realm of cybersecurity. First and foremost, it once again demonstrated how commonplace data breaches have become. Despite likely affecting more than 6,000 people, this is a relatively tame data breach, especially compared to the mammoth, multi-million-account data breaches that have become a regular occurrence. This does not minimize the severity of the UNC data breach, but it does emphasize the need for cybersecurity among all organizations that handle sensitive data of any kind.

Additionally, this incident is a strong case study for the importance of secure file transfer solutions that are both dependable and easy to use. While no more specific details concerning UNC's file sharing system have been released, the sheer fact that its privacy settings could be so easily deactivated reflects a major shortcoming.

Organizations must embrace file transfer tools that feature more robust safeguards and security controls. Without these solutions in place, firms cannot ensure that data remains accessible to necessary personnel without compromising integrity.