Personal data of Augustana College students and staff compromised after data breach

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ROCK ISLAND, Ill. (KWQC) - Personal data, including social security numbers and dates of birth, of Augustana students and staff have been compromised, according to a letter sent to students.

In the letter, the school told recipients that “a ransomware attack” took place on one of the school’s servers “on or about February 19, 2019” but said there was “no evidence of attempted or actual misuse of this information.”

"It is concerning for me, yes. Obviously, everyone is aware that these data breaches are becoming more and more common,” Brandon Gittelman, a 2012 alum living in Denver, said in an interview with TV6.

Gittelman said he was “disheartened” with how the school went about notifying him. The IT expert said the school sent the letter to his parents, not his home. The letter was dated May 7, nearly two months after the college confirmed a breach of a server.

"The alumni association has my correct address. They have my social media. They have reached out to me on Linkedin before,” he said. “They could have sent it to me. I think it was poorly handled.”

An Augustana spokesperson would not tell TV6 how many people were impacted or how students were notified.

“In order to protect any new security updates and to stay within the guidelines we have been given by the third party experts assisting us with this issue, I cannot provide more information,” Ashleigh Johnston, director pf public relations and social media, said. “We have handled this issue in compliance with all legal considerations and guidelines, and will continue working to improve our security procedures.

The letter sent to those impacted said the school was putting new safeguards, including access to 24 months of complimentary credit monitoring and identity restoration services with Experian, in place for those impacted by the breach.

“We are committed to maintaining a secure computing environment and preserving the confidentiality of our electronic information,” Johnston said in a statement. “Augustana will continue to review and improve our security procedures. “

Gittleman says he plans to take advantage of the offer, but wants the school to do more in the event of future data breaches.

"If we are going to support you guys, you guys need to be more transparent if something like this happens,” he said.

Anyone who believes they may have been impacted or who have questions about the breach can call the free assistance line at 855-662-8108. The line is available Monday through Friday 6:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. PST and Saturday and Sunday 8:00 a.m. 5:00 p.m.