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March 16, 2013

SSU data breach could affect 25,000 workers

SALEM — The personal information of as many as 25,000 past and present Salem State University employees may be compromised after one of the college’s computer servers was infected with a virus.

The university this week sent notification to 25,000 current and former school employees whose information was on the infected server. The breach affects people who have received a paycheck from the university — from full-time staff to students who were employed on campus.

”All we know is that there was a virus that could have potentially compromised (employees personal information),” said Tom Torello, vice president of marking and communications at Salem State. “... At this point, we don’t know if anyone’s information has been used in any type of illegal way, so we don’t know if anyone’s information is out there.”

Salem State is offering to pay for one year of ID protection services through Experian for those affected.

A letter was mailed this week to everyone whose information was on the affected server. If you haven’t been contacted, that means your information is not at risk, said Torello. The university has also set up a call center to field questions from those affected.

Virus detection software alerted the university to the problem, he said.

“This is unfortunately a very common occurrence now,” Torello said. “We have excellent systems in place. Hopefully, it was detected before any information was compromised, but you don’t take chances. ... This is the world we live in.”

Torello declined to say what type of details were on the server, except to say it was “personal identification information.”

Salem State includes roughly 10,000 undergraduate and graduate students, including many from Cape Ann.

As of fall 2011, the university had a total of 1,376 full- and part-time faculty and staff.

Bethany Bray can be reached via bbray@gloucestertimes.com and on Twitter @SalemNewsBB.

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