Friday 14 December 2018

University at centre of potential data breach after USB stick 'goes missing'

(stock photo)
(stock photo)

Rachel Farrell

A leading university has experienced a potential data breach after a USB stick containing “confidential” details of up to 900 students went missing.

NUI Galway, with a student population of over 18,000, confirmed in a statement on their website that the USB may have contained student names, their student numbers and exam results.

It is understood that the details of up to 5pc of the student population, some 900 students, were included on the “mislaid” memory device.

“NUI Galway recently suffered a potential breach of personal data whereby a non-encrypted portable device (USB stick) was potentially utilised to store a confidential file containing a list of students.  The device was mislaid and is now presumed lost,” the college said in a statement.

“While the University is unclear on the contents of the portable device, it may have held a file containing names of approximately 5pc of the student body, their student number and exam results.”

A spokesperson for NUIG confirmed that all potentially affected students have been notified and that the incident was reported to the Data Protection Commissioner.

“The University has taken into account the seriousness of this issue which has also been reported to the Office of the Irish Data Protection Commissioner who have considered the matter and issued guidance,” they said.

Is it understood that a review into the incident will take place “to ensure that such an incident does not occur again”.

“The University has strict policies in place relating to the use of portable devices, in addition to a staff data protection training programme and online security training,” they said.

The letter sent to some of those affected, which was seen by Independent.ie, informed students that the information potentially included results of individual modules as well as overall results.

Students Union (SU) president of NUIG Megan Reilly said that the SU aim to work alongside the college to ensure the review goes ahead.

“The college are calling for a full review, and we’re calling on them to make sure that review happens,” Ms Reilly told Independent.ie.

“It will explore why it happened and make sure these things are communicated with students as well. We need to take a look at the process of it.”

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