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Officials for a community college system in North Carolina this week acknowledged that someone managed to hack his or her way into a server housing the Social Security and driver's license numbers of more than 51,000 library patrons.
The data breach affected students and local residents who used computers in the libraries at 25 separate campuses throughout the Tar Heel State in the past year.
A spokeswoman for the community college system said officials are in the process of notifying all users whose numbers were on the server and, so far, it appears the hacker has not used the personal data for nefarious purposes.
"We regret this situation has occurred, and we apologize to those with information on the server," Saundra Williams, a senior vice president with the Community College System, said in a statement. "Our colleges and our system office are making every effort to ensure that personal information is permanently removed from our records."
Officials said the server stored only driver's license numbers at the Wake Tech and Johnson County community colleges.
However, both driver's license and Social Security numbers were stored at the other campuses including Alamance, Beaufort, Bladen, Blue Ridge, Brunswick, Central Carolina, College of the Albemarle, Gaston, Halifax, Haywood, Lenoir, Martin, Nash, Pamlico, Piedmont, Richmond, Roanoke-Chowan, Rowan-Cabarrus, Sandhills, Southwestern, Tri-County, Vance Granville and Wilson.
Williams said the community colleges have already started to remove other personal data from the server and will no longer store users' driver's license numbers, Social Security numbers or other sensitive personal data on its network.
The North Carolina schools join dozens of other universities and colleges victimized by hackers in the past year.
In April, University of California at Berkeley officials said hackers infiltrated a healthcare database containing the personal information of more than 160,000 students dating back to 1999.
In September, the University of North Carolina's radiology department discovered that hackers may have compromised a server containing the personal a> data of more than 163,000 women participating in a mammography research project.
Similar attacks were reported this year at Eastern Illinois University, Chaminade University, Montana State University, the University of Michigan and the University of Alabama.