Bristol Community College Data Breach Affects Over 56,000 People
More than 56,000 people affiliated with Bristol Community College have had their personal data exposed in a cyberattack that took place last December, and some may already be gearing up for a class action lawsuit.
According to a notice posted on the college's website, an investigation found that an unauthorized person accessed and took personal information from thousands of BCC affiliates.
The information exposed includes full names and possibly also either social security numbers, dates of birth, driver's license numbers, bank account or credit card information, or other highly sensitive data.
However, the school says that to date, it is not aware of any identity fraud or "improper use" of any of the information accessed in the data breach.
Data Breach Incident
In December 2022, the cyberattack downed college networks across all of BCC's campuses, which are located in Attleboro, Fall River, New Bedford, and Taunton.
The data breach took place some time between Dec. 14 and Dec. 23, 2022.
Results from a forensic investigation into the attack revealed the extent of the breach, and a BCC filing with the Maine Attorney General's Office states that a total of 56,400 people had their information compromised.
The state of Maine requires entities to report data breaches affecting their residents. According to the filing, 277 of those affected by the cyberattack live in Maine.
Although the cyberattack was first reported in early January, the school states in the filing that the breach itself — described as "hacking" — was found and reported on April 10, when the investigation concluded.
Individual Notices Mailed Out
The school has been mailing out individualized data breach notices to those affected since May 10.
Letters outline steps that people can take to protect themselves from possible identity theft, including placing a fraud alert or security freeze on their credit files, contacting their banks and monitoring their accounts, and others.
In one letter seen by WBSM News, the school notes that because the social security number of the person was potentially affected, BCC is providing one year of free credit monitoring.
Massachusetts residents affected by the breach also have the right to obtain a police report on the incident.
Still, several law firms appear to be exploring the possibility of a class action lawsuit against the college due to the breach.
Statement From the College
BCC spokesperson Kevin Spirlet stressed that the college takes cybersecurity seriously and has complex systems, with "many layers, access points, and security stop gaps."
"It is distressing that we have been victims of this terrible and all-too-common crime," Spirlet said.
"Bristol Community College is always committed to evaluating our internal controls and instituting further security measures to protect personal information."
"We live in a time when everyone should always remain vigilant for fraudulent or irregular activity on a regular basis," he added.
Those with questions about the incident can call a dedicated toll-free number set up for the purpose at 888-574-3195, from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday.
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