Saturday, April 18, 2009

NUS email sent with wrong attachment resulting in a massive leak of confidential data of its alumni!

A breach in data security at the NUS Career Centre on 1 April 2009 was recently reported in the news.

An email was sent to some 900 alumni of the National University of Singapore (NUS) inviting them to a recruitment event. However this email inadvertently included an Excel spreadsheet with information of about 16,000 alumni graduating between 1993 and 2008 with First Class and Second Upper Honours.

What transpired was that the staff who sent the email attached the Excel spreadsheet to perform a 'mail merge' function, however the staff forgot to delete the Excel spreadsheet before the email was sent out. This spreadsheet contained names, faculties, degrees conferred, year of graduation, contact numbers, mailing and email addresses of the alumni who were affected!

Upon detecting the slipup, the staff responsible for the security lapse immediately recalled the email, but this recall could not be achieved in totality.

NUS immediately followed up by sending an email to the recipients to apologise for the oversight and for any anxiety and inconvenience caused. All recipients were asked to disregard the confidential file and not further circulate or use it. It was also understood that the staff responsible for the oversight has been counselled and disciplined.

This incident, described as an isolated incident prompted NUS to embark on a university-wide review on information security.

What happens to our top universities here? National Technology University has seen a couple of suicide and accident cases involving 3 of its Electrical Engineering students and staff; the most notable one being the case of David Widjaja. On the other hand, NUS now also has its internal problem of data security breach.

Some academic experts have warned that the latest data security breach could mar the reputation of NUS as one of the world’s foremost universities in its bid to enter the league of top world-class universities.

1 comment :

Anonymous said...

Particulars of past graduates have been shared by scores of people. It is only fair that the NUS staff responsible for the leak be named as well.

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