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The University of Georgia is warning that hackers may have accessed credit-card and Social Security numbers for roughly 20,000 students and applicants. Law-enforcement authorities are investigating.
The school said in a statement Thursday that it recently discovered that hackers were using its systems to scan and probe other systems on the Internet for potential attacks. While the university says there's no indication that the hackers are using the private information, the potential for identity theft does exist, and the school isn't taking any chances.
Information that could have been pilfered by the attacks includes names, dates of birth, Social Security numbers, contact and parental information, credit-card numbers, and other information on admission applications. The hackers could have accessed information about students and applicants dating back to August 2002.
The university is attempting to contact each student who could be affected by the security breach. A special Web site has been set up to help students who may have had their private information stolen.
"We sincerely regret that this happened," provost Arnett C. Mace said in the statement. "Our first concern is that personal data may have been accessed."