ABC Columbia reports that a password-protected laptop stolen from a locked room in the University of South Carolina's physics and astronomy department in April contained more than 6,000 students' names, e-mail addresses and Social Security numbers (h/t DataBreaches.net).

"Although we have no evidence that your personal information has been accessed, we strongly advise you to take measures to protect yourself from possible identity theft," Dr. Roger Sawyer, executive dean of the university's College of Arts and Sciences, wrote in the notification letter [PDF file].

Potentially affected students, according to ABC Columbia, were enrolled in one of four classes dating back to January 2010.


All those affected by the breach are advised to put a fraud alert on their credit files, and are being offered a year of free ID TheftSmart service from Kroll Advisory Solutions.

"I assure you that security and protection of personal information are taken very seriously at the University of South Carolina and we deeply regret any inconvenience this may cause you," Sawyer wrote in the letter.