Computer server for N.C. community colleges hacked

Posted December 18, 2009

— Authorities say a hacker accessed a computer server for North Carolina community colleges that contained the personal information of nearly 51,000 people, including library patrons at Wake Technical Community College.

The state Community College System plans to mail letters next week telling students that someone hacked a database containing information used to identify library patrons, including Social Security and driver's license numbers.

System Senior Vice President Saundra Williams said that officials don't believe the hacker accessed those numbers and that it appears the security breach was limited. State law requires the schools system to send a warning.

Williams said officials are "making every effort to make sure that personal information is permanently removed from our records."

The security breach occurred Aug. 23, when a hacker remotely decoded a user password for server housed in a Raleigh office. The breach was detected the next morning during a routine check.

By mid-October, the community college system determined that the breach had affected students and other patrons at 25 campuses:  Alamance, Beaufort, Bladen, Blue Ridge, Brunswick, Central Carolina, College of the Albemarle, Gaston, Halifax, Haywood, Johnston, Lenoir, Martin, Nash, Pamlico, Piedmont, Richmond, Rowan-Cabarrus, Sandhills, Southwestern, Tri-County, Vance-Granville, Wake Tech and Wilson.

Officials said they waited four months to notify students of the security breach because the investigation was "complex" and they wanted to get more information.

Those with questions about the letters or the status of their personal information should call 919-807-7241 or e-mail

The state Attorney General's Office provides information about credit checks and protecting personal information.


This story is closed for comments.

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  • Just Once Dec 18, 2009

    That is totally unacceptable they wait 4 months to notify. They should live by the same rules the rest of the public does.

  • go4gin Dec 18, 2009


  • JustOneGodLessThanU Dec 18, 2009

    Funny...if the hacker was a community college student, they seem to have taught her/him quite well. :-D

  • MojoGal Dec 18, 2009

    My son just got an email from Wake Tech about the breach (11:34 am):
    >>There is NO evidence that the hacker accessed any data, but 20 community patrons of the Wake Tech library will be receiving notification letters that their driver's licenses may have been exposed:

    Wake Tech's exposure in the security breach at the NC Community
    College System Office was the second lowest in the state. Out of 51,000 records affected across the state, Wake Tech only had 20 drivers licenses that were on the server when the incident occurred.

    Wake Tech removed all social security numbers and drivers
    license numbers from our records in the Spring of 2005. Unfortunately, the drivers license numbers of 20 community patrons were inadvertently left on the server...After we learned of the security breach, the System Office removed those numbers from the database. email

  • WhiskeyTangoFoxtrot Dec 18, 2009

    "Luckily the illegals are not affected since they do not have SSNs"

    Winner of best comment EVER!

  • jreesnc Dec 18, 2009

    "funny it takes a hacker a few hours to get in get the info an get out....but it takes them this almost 4 months to BEGIN to tell the students"

    Maybe that's all the 'hacker' wanted! They were trying to get something, like their own grades or transcripts the folks at the office kept promising and NOT sending. :-)

  • rnitschke66 Dec 18, 2009

    The blame goes to the libraries that did not purge their databases of patrons' social security numbers and NC drivers license numbers years ago when they were supposed to.

  • Dec 18, 2009

    Govt creates Internet, Hackers control Internet, Govt sits around with Finger Up Rear, Hackers ruin America, Govt Officials profit from Hackers, Americans Revolt and Create Own Protection from Govt. Timeto create encryption that the US Govt can not access to protect us from politicians.

  • tmedlin Dec 18, 2009

    interesting that this happened just prior to today's big public forum about allowing illegals into the community colleges...

  • farm Dec 18, 2009

    Hmm... I wonder how hard it was to crack the password? Type your seven character password here: 1234567