WALTHAM, Mass. -Are colleges, universities and major research centers the latest prime targets for identity thieves? According to security provider Intrusic Inc., a university data center is an easy starting point for criminals to obtain the information necessary to commit identity theft, cyber-fraud and a string of other crimes. “Universities present a growing area of concern for the security industry because of the openness of these systems and the large numbers of users,” said Jon Oltsik, senior analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group. “By infiltrating these networks, malicious hackers gain access to Social Security numbers, credit card information, home addresses and other personal information. That universities can also act as a bridge into the private companies conducting business with them is equally troubling and requires a reexamination of security policies and technologies. Because cyber criminals recognize the opportunities universities present, the number and frequency of breaches point to more of these attacks in 2005.” Experts say on average, there have been almost two major known compromises disclosed monthly at universities in 2004. In one of the most recent infiltrations, the University of California at Berkeley was the victim of a massive insider compromise when a malicious intruder stole the personal information of 1.4 million participants in California’s In-Home Supportive Services.

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