, Newburyport, MA

March 16, 2013

25,000 could be affected by data breach at SSU

By Bethany Bray

---- — SALEM — The personal information of 25,000 Salem State University employees may be at risk after one of the college’s computer servers was infected with a virus.

The university this week notified 25,000 current and former employees whose information was on the infected server. The breach affects people who have received a paycheck from the university — from full-time staff to students who were employed on campus.

“All we know is that there was a virus that could have potentially compromised (employees personal information),” said Tom Torello, vice president of marketing and communications at Salem State. “... At this point we don’t know if anyone’s information has been used in any type of illegal way, so we don’t know if anyone’s information is out there.”

Salem State is offering to pay for one year of ID protection services through Experian for those affected.

A letter was mailed this week to everyone whose information was on the affected server. If you haven’t been contacted, that means your information is not at risk, said Torello.

The university has set up a call center to field questions from those affected.

Virus detection software alerted the college to the problem, he said.

“This is unfortunately a very common occurrence now,” Torello said. “We have excellent systems in place. Hopefully it was detected before any information was compromised, but you don’t take chances. ... This is the world we live in.”

Torello declined to say what type of details were on the server, except to say it was “personal identification information.”

Salem State has roughly 10,000 undergraduate and graduate students. As of fall 2011, the university had a total of 1,376 full- and part-time faculty and staff.