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By | John Leyden 16th September 2005 12:15

Arrest made in Berkeley laptop theft case

As new campus data security breach hits Ohio college

Police have arrested a man after recovering a stolen laptop that held personal data on more than 98,000 University of California, Berkeley students and applicants.

The laptop - containing the names, address and social security numbers of students and prospective students - was taken from Berkley's graduate admission office in March, triggering a security alert. The data might potentially be used by fraudsters to open up bank accounts or obtain credit cards under false names though it's unclear whether any fraud has actually taken place. A new operating system has been installed since the theft and data has been over-written.

An unnamed San Francisco man has been arrested and charged with possession of stolen property after campus police discovered the the Berkeley laptop had been sold over the net by him to a South Carolina resident. The accused said he was sold the laptop in April by a woman matching the description of the suspected laptop thief.

"UC police note that while a lab analysis could not determine whether the sensitive campus data was ever accessed, nothing in their investigation points to identity theft nor individuals involved in identity theft. It appears, they said, that the intent was simply to steal and sell a laptop computer," the university said in its statement.

Several US universities had been forced to issue alerts over data security breaches over recent months. In the latest such case Miami University, of Oxford, Ohio, admitted that a file containing the names, social security numbers and marks of around 21,000 students dating back to the autumn 2002 term had been left exposed and unprotected on its web server for the last three years. The University's statement on the case can be found here. ®

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