Friday, May 11, 2007

Goshen College reports computer security breach

GOSHEN, Ind. – Goshen College joined the ranks of other notable colleges and universities as the latest victim of compromised computer security by hackers. From May 5 to 7, a college computer was remotely accessed with the suspected motivation of using the system to send spam e-mails.

“We take this attack seriously and we regret that it happened,” said Goshen College President James E. Brenneman, “We are doing everything we can to assess the potential damage and to assist those who may have been affected.”

Upon discovery of the attack, law enforcement was notified.  While no personal information appears to have been viewed, the computer system did contain personal information about current and prospective students and some of their parents.

“Computer attacks are a growing threat across the country,” Brenneman said. “Like other colleges and universities, we are in a continual process of updating security protocols and firewalls.  In a case like this, we immediately stop the attack, inform anyone who may have been put at risk and take steps to ensure that it doesn’t happen again.”

In addition, Brenneman noted that college personnel are informing the major credit-reporting agencies regarding the potential compromise as well as provided information to those at risk on how they can monitor their credit reports for suspicious activity.

The unwanted access began on Saturday, May 5, when an outside computer “hacker” remotely accessed a computer. This computer then was used to attack additional computers, according to Michael Sherer, director of Information Technology Services.

“Based on activity in log files, we believe the hacker's motive was to gain access to our computers, which could then be used to send out e-mail spam — not to obtain our confidential data,” Sherer said. “Our best assessment is that no data was lost, but we are continuing to investigate this incident.”

The potential for improper access extended from May 5 to May 7 on a database containing information on about 7,300 current or prospective students, from fall 2003 to the present, as well as some of their parents. The breach of the college’s computer security systems may have allowed a hacker to view the names, addresses, birth dates, Social Security numbers and phone numbers of students and some information on some parents.

“Our staff immediately addressed this security breach. Goshen College has implemented additional internal controls and safeguards for personal information,” Sherer said.

While no data loss is suspected, Goshen College sent letters to students and parents who may have been affected.

Besides notifying the major credit-reporting agencies, the college also has provided students and parents with recommendations from independent sources and various government agencies concerning steps to take after suspected unauthorized access to personal information.

Students and parents also have been advised to check the college’s Web site,, for updates. Those affected can contact the Goshen College Information Technology Services Office any time by e-mail at or call Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. EDT, at 1-866-877-3055.  On Friday, May 11, 2007, students and parents may call until 9 p.m. EDT and on Saturday, May 12, 2007, calls can be made from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. EDT.

“We apologize for this incident,” said Provost and Executive Vice President John D. Yordy. “We regret any inconvenience students and some parents may encounter. We are committed to ensuring this does not happen again.”

Editors: For more information about this release, please contact Richard R. Aguirre, Goshen College director of public relations, at  (503) 551-7974 (cell), (574) 535-7571 (office) or


Goshen College, established in 1894, is a residential Christian liberal arts college rooted in the Anabaptist-Mennonite tradition. The college’s Christ-centered core values – passionate learning, global citizenship, compassionate peacemaking and servant-leadership – prepare students as leaders for the church and world. Recognized for its unique Study-Service Term program, Goshen has earned citations of excellence in Barron’s Best Buys in Education, “Colleges of Distinction,” “Making a Difference College Guide” and U.S.News & World Report’s “America’s Best Colleges” edition, which named Goshen a “least debt college.” Visit

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Goshen College
1700 S Main St
Goshen, Indiana 46526
phone: +1 (574) 535-7569
fax: 535-7660