Class action suit alleges Oakwood University responsible for massive data breach
HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - A class action suit against Oakwood University claims officials were responsible for a massive and preventable data breach, which may have given hackers access to Social Security information, driver’s license information, and financial information.
The plaintiff’s lawyer and a cyber crime expert both said it is important for universities to have a robust security system. However, the first plaintiff thinks Oakwood University beefed up its security system a little too late.
“My client would be seeking compensation for any losses that she has suffered already,” said attorney Steve Cole, who’s representing the plaintiff. “You know, her, the privacy in her data is very important to her.”
That privacy was allegedly compromised in March 2022 when university officials claim they found out about the data breach.
Oakwood posted on its website a clear message about the incident, and an official statement explaining letters were mailed to victims in May of this year. But the plaintiff’s lawyer says, his client received her notification much later than that, in October.
“All I can say is that if it took seven months to send the information to my client,” Cole said. “One certainly has to wonder if not more, how bad their cybersecurity information-keeping practices really are.”
The suit claims important personal and financial information was exposed. A cybercrime expert at the University of Alabama explains what hackers can do with that information.
“Once data is compromised, it depends on the amount of data and the sensitivity of data, but when you’re talking about driver’s license numbers, social security numbers and detailed person level of information, you can potentially open up bank accounts, credit cards,” according to Dr. Hudnall of UA.
Dr. Hudnall was able to offer the best steps to take to make sure you do not become a victim of identity theft.
“You can monitor your bank accounts, you can look for suspicious transactions, monitor your credit report information, you know, never hurts to get a free credit report every now and then just to make sure that there’s no additional lines of credit that have been opened up,” Dr. Hudnall said.
So, where does the university stand with the plaintiff at this point? Steve Cole said he’s “in contact with university counsel,” and it’s a “good relationship so far.”
WAFF reporters reached out to university officials on multiple attempts and have not heard back.
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