FAIRBANKS, Alaska, April 26, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- The University of Alaska is notifying potentially affected students and individuals after an investigation into a data privacy incident involving potential unauthorized access to certain UA email accounts. University of Alaska is notifying individuals whose records were or may have been in the email accounts at the time of the unauthorized access and is providing these individuals with information and resources that can be used to better protect against the possible misuse of information.
What Happened? In February 2018, University of Alaska (UA) began receiving reports from UAOnline system users of issues accessing their UAOnline accounts. UA immediately took steps to terminate unauthorized access, initiated an investigation, and began working with third-party forensic experts to assist in determining the impact of this activity. Based on the investigation, UA determined that certain users' UAOnline account passwords were changed by an unauthorized third party. In February 2018, UA notified all UAOnline users whose accounts were affected and upgraded security protocols for password changes.
Following the notification to affected UAOnline users, UA continued to investigate the unauthorized access to the UA system to confirm the full nature and scope of the activity. That investigation included a thorough review of other university systems and applications. Through this review, on or around March 28, 2018, the investigation determined that an unauthorized user also may have accessed certain email accounts between January 31, 2018 and February 15, 2018. UA expanded the investigation to include a comprehensive programmatic and manual review of the affected email accounts to determine whether protected information was present and to whom such records related. UA then worked diligently over several months to determine the identity and contact information for individuals whose information may have been present in the email accounts at the time of the unauthorized access.
What Information Was Involved? The information that may have been present in the affected email accounts varies by individual; however, it may include an individual's name, government issued identification number, date of birth, digital signature, driver's license number, usernames and/or passwords, financial account numbers, health and/or health insurance information, passport number, and UA student identification number. For certain individuals, Social Security number may also have been present in the affected email accounts.
What UA Is Doing. Upon learning of potential unauthorized access to certain email accounts, UA immediately took steps to respond and worked with outside experts to confirm the nature and scope of the email incident and identify any individuals whose information may have been present in the emails potentially subject to unauthorized access. UA is notifying potentially affected individuals of this incident, providing them with access to credit monitoring, and providing information and access to resources they may use to better protect against potential misuse of personal information, should they feel it appropriate to do so. While UA has security measures in place to protect information in its care, it is also taking steps to evaluate additional safeguards and review policies and procedures in order to protect the security of information on its systems.
What You Can Do. UA encourages potentially affected individuals to review the information it is providing on "Steps Individuals Can Take To Protect Information."
For More Information. To assist individuals who may have further questions about this incident, UA has established a toll-free hotline. This dedicated assistance line may be reached by calling 866-783-5580, Monday through Friday, 5:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m. Pacific Standard Time – excluding U.S. holidays. Additional information may also be found at https://www.alaska.edu/news/it/dataincident.php. The University will not contact you by phone to request any personal information.
Steps Individuals Can Take To Protect Personal Information
UA encourages potentially impacted individuals to remain vigilant against incidents of identity theft and fraud, to review account statements, and to monitor credit reports for suspicious activity. Under U.S. law adults over the age of 18 are entitled to one free credit report annually from each of the three major credit reporting bureaus. To order a free credit report, visit www.annualcreditreport.com or call, toll-free, 1-877-322-8228. You may also contact the three major credit bureaus directly to request a free copy of your credit report.
Individuals with credit files have the right to place a "security freeze" on their credit report, which will prohibit a consumer reporting agency from releasing information in the credit report without the individual's express authorization. The security freeze is designed to prevent credit, loans, and services from being approved in an individual's name without his or her consent. However, be aware that using a security freeze to take control over who gets access to the personal and financial information in a credit report may delay, interfere with, or prohibit the timely approval of any subsequent request or application made regarding a new loan, credit, mortgage, or any other account involving the extension of credit. Pursuant to federal law, you cannot be charged to place or lift a security freeze on your credit report. Should you wish to place a security freeze, please contact the major consumer reporting agencies listed below:
In order to request a security freeze, you will need to provide the following information:
- Your full name (including middle initial as well as Jr., Sr., II, III, etc.);
- Social Security number;
- Date of birth;
- If you have moved in the past five (5) years, provide the addresses where you have lived over the prior five years;
- Proof of current address, such as a current utility bill or telephone bill;
- A legible photocopy of a government-issued identification card (state driver's license or ID card, military identification, etc.);
- If you are a victim of identity theft, include a copy of either the police report, investigative report, or complaint to a law enforcement agency concerning identity theft.
The credit reporting agencies have one (1) to three (3) business days after receiving your request to place a security freeze on your credit file report, based upon the method of the request. The credit bureaus must also send written confirmation to you within five (5) business days and provide you with the process by which you may remove the security freeze, including an authentication mechanism. Upon receiving a direct request from you to remove a security freeze and upon receiving proper identification from you, the consumer reporting agency shall remove a security freeze within one (1) hour after receiving the request by telephone for removal or within three (3) business days after receiving the request by mail for removal.
As an alternative to a security freeze, individuals with credit files have the right to place an initial or extended "fraud alert" on their files at no cost. An initial fraud alert is a 1-year alert that is placed on an individual's credit file. Upon seeing a fraud alert display on an individual's credit file, a business is required to take steps to verify the individual's identity before extending new credit. If you are a victim of identity theft, you are entitled to an extended fraud alert, which is a fraud alert lasting seven years. Should you wish to place a fraud alert, please contact any one of the agencies listed below:
P.O. Box 2002
Allen, TX 75013
P.O. Box 2000
Chester, PA 19106
P.O. Box 105069
Atlanta, GA 30348
Further information regarding identity theft, fraud alerts, security freezes, and the steps you can take to protect yourself, is available by contacting the consumer reporting agencies, the Federal Trade Commission, or your state Attorney General. The Federal Trade Commission can be reached at: 600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20580, www.identitytheft.gov, 1-877-ID-THEFT (1-877-438-4338); TTY: 1-866-653-4261. The Federal Trade Commission also encourages those who discover that their information has been misused to file a complaint with them. You can obtain further information on how to file such a complaint by way of the contact information listed above. You have the right to file a police report if you ever experience identity theft or fraud. Please note that in order to file a report with law enforcement for identity theft, you will likely need to provide some proof that you have been a victim. Instances of known or suspected identity theft should also be reported to law enforcement and your state Attorney General. This notice has not been delayed by law enforcement.
For North Carolina residents, the Attorney General can be contacted at 9001 Mail Service Center, Raleigh, NC 27699-9001, 1-877-566-7226 or 1-919-716-6400, www.ncdoj.gov.
For Maryland residents, the Attorney General can be contacted at 200 St. Paul Place, 16th Floor, Baltimore, MD 21202, 1-888-743-0023, www.oag.state.md.us. UA's main campus is located at 2025 Yukon Drive, Fairbanks, AK 99775.
For New Mexico residents, you have rights pursuant to the Fair Credit Reporting Act, such as the right to be told if information in your credit file has been used against you, the right to know what is in your credit file, the right to ask for your credit score, and the right to dispute incomplete or inaccurate information. Further, pursuant to the Fair Credit Reporting Act, the consumer reporting agencies must correct or delete inaccurate, incomplete, or unverifiable information; consumer reporting agencies may not report outdated negative information; access to your file is limited; you must give your consent for credit reports to be provided to employers; you may limit "prescreened" offers of credit and insurance you get based on information in your credit report; and you may seek damages from violator. You may have additional rights under the Fair Credit Reporting Act not summarized here. Identity theft victims and active duty military personnel have specific additional rights pursuant to the Fair Credit Reporting Act. We encourage you to review your rights pursuant to the Fair Credit Reporting Act by visiting www.consumerfinance.gov/f/201504_cfpb_summary_your-rights-under-fcra.pdf, or by writing Consumer Response Center, Room 130-A, Federal Trade Commission, 600 Pennsylvania Ave. N.W., Washington, D.C. 20580.
For Rhode Island Residents: The Rhode Island Attorney General can be reached at: 150 South Main Street, Providence, Rhode Island 02903, www.riag.ri.gov, 1-401-247-4400. Under Rhode Island law, you have the right to obtain any police report filed in regard to this incident. The number of Rhode Island residents potentially impacted by this incident cannot be confirmed at this time.
For Massachusetts residents, you have the right to obtain any police report filed in regard to this incident. If you are the victim of identity theft, you also have the right to file a police report and obtain a copy of it.
SOURCE University of Alaska