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UC Berkeley Press Release

Unauthorized access to UC Berkeley computer raises serious concerns

– The announcement on Tuesday (October 20) from the California Department of Social Services that law enforcement officials are investigating the unauthorized access to a computer database at University of California, Berkeley, has raised a number of issues.

Campus officials said today that even one breach of its network is unacceptable. The campus works hard to avoid such incidents and regrets that this one occurred.

It appears that someone hacked into the campus's network and gained access to a database that contained personal information about individuals who provide and receive in-home health care.

The investigation has not yet determined whether any personal data was acquired. To date, the state Department of Social Services has not received any information indicating that identity theft or any misuse of the data has occurred.

However, because the database contained sensitive material, such as names and social security numbers of approximately 600,000 people, those who believe their personal information may have been in the database may wish to contact the Department of Social Services for instructions on fraud protection. Detailed information is available on the department's website. For questions or additional assistance, the department's toll-free number is 1-866-404-9214.

The database was being used by a visiting scholar at the Institute of Industrial Relations. As part of her research project, she was trying to determine how wage and benefit increases can improve the recruitment and retention of quality home-care workers.

Campus networking officials say they are investigating how and why the breach happened.

The campus has been in the process of directing units to comply with new standards for security that will officially go into effect in the spring. At that time, individuals who fail to meet these standards will be denied access to the university's network. For example, installing patches that block computer viruses and that address other security problems will be required.

In the interim, campus network security officials will continue to scan campus systems for problems. Particular attention is being paid to databases with sensitive information.

Campus network security officials spotted and confirmed the Department of Social Services database breach in early September. As soon as the matter was brought to the attention of the campus counsel he began to work closely with the appropriate state and federal authorities, including the FBI.

California Department of Social Services was informed of the security breach as soon as it was determined that doing so would not impede the FBI investigation. The campus; Department of Social Services; the FBI; and officials from Connecticut College, the visiting scholar's home institution, met on Sept. 27 to address the security breach.