Updates on the UC break-and-enter
On Jan. 27, a break-and-enter took place in the University Centre, and several devices that may have contained students’ personal information were stolen. On Feb. 7, the University of Guelph’s Chief Information Officer Rebecca Graham informed students of the break-in through a widely distributed email, which caused some concern for recipients of the news.
Since the incident, the university administration has taken several steps in ensuring that students’ concerns are dealt with accordingly. Another email from Graham informed students that the university would be providing free credit monitoring for one year to students affected by the incident.
Lori Bona Hunt, of Communications and Public Affairs, says that this is merely a precaution on the part of the administration.
“There actually has not been any evidence to date that any of the information has been used for fraudulent purposes. We’re just being abundantly cautious,” said Hunt.
The emails have also been sent out to a large group of people for security measures since it was not evident which students’ personal information were on the devices.
“In reality, far fewer people were probably affected,” said Hunt.
The Jan. 27 break-in has been just one in a series of thefts that have taken place in the UC in recent months. A hard drive was stolen from The Ontarion’s office prior to Winter Break, another break, enter, and theft on the UC’s second floor reported as having occurred between Feb. 10 and 11, and on Feb. 19, CFRU’s Station Manager Peter Bradley informed volunteers and employees that a computer from the radio station was stolen on the 18th. Through email correspondence, Bradley told The Ontarion that this was the first break-in at CFRU “in several years.”
“It’s unfortunate, and it’s alarming that this sort of thing has been happening all over campus,” added Bradley. “We won’t allow this incident to dampen the atmosphere of trust, goodwill, and creativity that defines CFRU’s volunteer culture, but we will be putting some new security measures in place that will help prevent this from happening again.”
The slew of device thefts may indicate that obtaining personal information was not the intention of the Jan. 27 break-in, but rather that electronics were the sought after targets. However, the ongoing police investigation will hope to find the intention and perpetrator(s) of the crime in the upcoming months.
“The university’s also been in contact with the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario,” added Hunt.
Now, several weeks after the incident, the university has turned its attention to making students, staff, and faculty aware of on-campus security and keeping their personal electronics close. Because the UC is a public building and it’s open for long periods of time, Hunt says that the discussion has focused not just on security in the building, “but also about reminding people to lock their offices, lock up their equipment like computers and things like that just because frankly, it’s an easy target […] there is access to a significant chunk of the building for the public.”
What Hunt calls “the educational component” of the process is particularly important as people store much of their information on desktops, rather than on hard drives, and often leave personal devices unattended.
“[We’re to] remind people to make sure that their personal laptops or computers or any other personal belongings are locked up and secure,” said Hunt, “and not leaving information in places where it could be easily retrieved.”