Hackers were busy over the summer, getting access to sensitive information. It was all stored in a file on a server at Northwest Florida State College.
It affected 3,000 employees and 76,000 current and past students. But more alarming, it affected 200,000 students that may never have even set foot on the college's campus.
"Ninety eight percent of the people who are affected by this never even heard about this university before this morning," said computer security consultant Jeremy Nelson.
The file was filled with names of students who were eligible for a Bright Future Scholarship during the 2005-2006 and 2006-2007 school years. The file contained names, Social Security numbers, dates of birth, ethnicity and gender.
Nelson says hackers do it because it's relatively easy to do.
"It's easy money. Why do you rob banks? Because that's where the money is. This information is readily available. People don't keep track of it properly, people don't take security seriously enough."
Many consumers feel it's only a matter of time before their own information is compromised.
"I think everybody, it's going to happen, sooner or later. Everything is just too free out there, and easy. I'm just waiting for my turn, I guess you can say," said Juan Flores, from Tampa.
Rachel Pandithurai agrees,
"Now with technology and all the new gadgets. It's inevitable. It will happen, eventually," Pandithurai said.
Jeremy Nelson says no matter how secure we our own information, once you put it in someone else's hands, you have to hope they are just as security conscious.
"I think what needs to happen is there needs to be better regulations for those that are keeping these lists. And there needs to be bigger penalties for companies or universities that are hacked into," Nelson said.
Nelson thinks it's only going to get worse, and encourages everyone to check their bank accounts regularly. Another good idea is to put fraud alerts on your account. There are credit agencies that can do it for free for 90 days.
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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