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Personal data of 59,000 people stolen

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Hackers gained personal information of 59,000 people affiliated with a California university - the latest in a string of high-profile cases of identity theft.

California State University, Chico spokesman Joe Wills said nearly all the current, former and prospective students, faculty and staff who were affected have been notified of the theft, which happened about three weeks ago. Hackers gained access to the victims' names and Social Security numbers.

"We still have no indication that the information was used for anything other than somebody wanting to have illegal access to this server," Wills said. "Typically, on a college campus that can be to download files, music and games. There's still no indication they were looking to take personal information."

The university discovered the attacks during routine monitoring of its networks. The investigation revealed that hackers installed software to store files on the system and tried to break into other computers.

Identity theft is considered the nation's fastest-growing crime and last year more than 9.9 million Americans were victims.
Earlier this year, 145,000 people were exposed by a breach at ChoicePoint Inc., which collects consumer data. At DSW Shoe Warehouse, officials acknowledged stolen credit information at 103 of its 175 stores.

The information service, Lexis-Nexis, has also admitted hackers gained access to personal information of 32,000 of its customers.
Other university systems have been targeted as well.

Last April, hackers broke into the computer system of the University of California, San Diego, compromising confidential information on about 380,000 students, teachers, employees, alumni and applicants.


Cases of id theft this month alone.

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