Posted On December 24, 2022 Consumer Privacy & Data Breaches
December 24, 2022 – Hartnell Community College District filed a notice of a data breach with the Attorney General of California on December 5, 2022 after learning that an unauthorized party could access confidential student information stored in its computer network.
According to the filing, an unauthorized party gained access to sensitive student information like first and last names, dates of birth, Social Security numbers, student ID numbers, and driver’s license numbers. Once it was confirmed that there was a data leak, Hartnell College sent out notification letters to all individuals affected by the data security breach.
The data breach lawyers at Console & Associates, P.C. are actively investigating the Hartnell College data breach. If you have received a breach notification and are interested in learning about the risks of identity theft and what you can do to protect yourself, we are offering free consultations where we can discuss your legal options for receiving compensation from Hartnell College. Contact us at (866) 778-5500 to discuss your legal options, or submit a confidential contact form for a free case evaluation.
Hartnell College is a public community college with five campuses, Main Campus, Castroville, King City, Alisal (East Salinas), and King City. It offers certificate programs and associates degrees in fields like nursing and health sciences, engineering, science, math, technology, social and behavioral sciences, and fine and performing arts. Originally founded in 1920 as Salinas Junior College in Salinas, CA, the Hartnell College now employs over 573 people. It generates approximately $46 million in revenue annually.
According to its filing with the Attorney General of California, Hartnell College determined that an unauthorized party had breached its computer network on October 2, 2022. Hartnell College noticed that there had been a network interruption and its computer systems were not working properly as a result. It was then that Hartnell College worked with a third-party cybersecurity specialist to investigate the attack to see the extent to which student and faculty information had been leaked.
After learning that the consumer data was exposed to a third party, Hartnell College’s next step was to review the files and determine what information was made available. The types of information exposed were first and last names, dates of birth, Social Security numbers, student ID numbers, and driver’s license numbers. While not consistent with each individual, any or all of the information listed may have been leaked due to the attack.
On December 5, 2022, Hartnell College sent out letters to all individuals whose sensitive information had been compromised.
If you receive a notice of a data breach from Hartnell Community College District, it means your personal information was included in the data breach. Your name, birth date, Social Security number, and driver’s license number are now in the hands of an unknown party. Recent reports indicate that, in the second half of 2022, data breaches increased by over 50% than in the same time period the previous year.
Hackers often sell the information they accessed during a data breach on the dark web to make money or use it to steal identities. There aren’t any really preventative measures a consumer can take to avoid their information being leaked, but there are things that they can do to reduce the chances of their identity being stolen.
We’ve compiled a list of things that you should do as soon as possible if your data has been leaked. This list is not comprehensive, and if your financial accounts or Social Security number has been leaked, you may want to take additional steps.
If your information has been leaked in a data breach, schools will send a letter informing those affected. Pertinent information on the attack is in these letters, like how your information was accessed, what the school is doing to protect your data in the future, and whether anyone else affected has been the victim of fraud or identity theft. Read the data breach letter carefully to get all of the information and use it to determine your next steps.
Once your information is stolen, hackers will move fast. If they wait too long, people have time to close their accounts before they can make use of the stolen information. The information accessed from Hartnell College might not have been all of the information the hackers needed to commit crimes. If that’s the case, they will need time to acquire all of the information, which means it could be weeks or months until they use your information. Stay vigilant and keep checking your accounts for unauthorized activity.
Hartnell College is providing those affected by the data breach with a credit monitoring service free of charge. Credit monitoring alerts you of any suspicious activity on your accounts. They usually cost anywhere from $20 to $40 a month. Signing up with Hartnell College’s free service is an easy way to keep on top of your credit accounts. You don’t have to worry about whether a free credit monitoring service will affect your right to file a lawsuit against a company that was potentially negligent before the breach.
Unlike credit monitoring, credit freezes and fraud alerts are services provided free of charge by the major credit bureaus. A credit freeze stops companies from checking your credit without approval from you. While a credit freeze may seem extreme, the Identity Theft Resource Center reports that it is the most effective way to prevent fraud after your personal information has been leaked. A fraud alert informs companies checking your credit that someone may be attempting to use your information for fraudulent purposes.
If your information has been leaked in a data breach, you should change all passwords for any online account. Even if you know which accounts have been breached, change the passwords on all of them. Hackers can obtain essential information about a consumer through any account.
The consumer privacy lawyers at Console & Associates, P.C. help customers affected by data and security breaches pursue legal solutions by offering free consultations. By explaining your rights in clear, concise terms, we help you make an informed decision about your next steps. If you are a victim of the Hartnell College data breach, Console & Associates, P.C. will investigate at no charge to you and offer advice on how to proceed. If you decide to pursue a case, rest assured that we don’t get paid unless you do. If your claim is successful, legal fees are either paid out of the funds recovered or by the defendant. If your claim is not successful, you pay nothing.
Below is a copy of the initial data breach notice posted on the Hartnell Community College District website (here is the actual notice sent to consumers):
On October 2, 2022, Hartnell Community College District (“the College”) experienced a network disruption that impacted our ability to access certain College files and systems. The investigation included working with third-party specialists to determine the full nature and scope of the activity. The College’s investigation was able to determine that certain segments of the College’s network were accessed without authorization during the incident. Therefore, in an abundance of caution, we conducted a review of the contents of the potentially impacted network locations to determine the type of information contained therein and to whom the information related.
On November 3, 2022, the investigation confirmed that a limited amount of information may have been accessed by the unauthorized actors during this incident. Therefore, we immediately undertook a thorough review of College systems to identify potentially affected individuals and any information that may have been at-risk as a result of the incident. On December 5, 2022, we began to provide written notification to individuals with potentially impacted information.
The types of information that could be potentially impacted varies by individual but includes first and last name and one or more of the following data elements: Social Security number, driver’s license/state ID number, student ID number, Social Security number, and/or medical information.
In response to this incident, we changed account passwords and are implementing additional security measures. To obtain more information about this incident, individuals should contact the College’s dedicated assistance line at 855-511-0005, Monday through Friday (except U.S. holidays), from 8 am- 8 pm PST. Individuals may also write to the College at P.O. Box 179 Salinas, CA 93902.