CCSF student data compromised by viruses

January 13, 2012 5:10:53 PM PST
A computer virus found at the City College of San Francisco may have been part of an elaborate international scheme stealing students' personal information for more than a decade.

Tens of thousands of people may have been affected.

"It definitely makes us angry, makes me angry," City College Chancellor Don Griffin told ABC7.

Griffin spoke to ABC7 Friday in a lab that has been shut down because of a computer virus that may have stolen credit card numbers and other personal information from countless students.

"We know that there's been transmissions to a number of countries. Information was transmission to Russia, according to the preliminary survey. Information was transmitted to China," said.

Because the lab is primarily for international students learning English, there was enough legitimate data going to foreign sites that the malicious traffic went unnoticed, possibly for as long as a decade. The virus not only logged students' keystrokes, it sent back images of the screen and may have even spread to other labs, or the home computers of students who used a thumb drive.

"We're looking at all of our systems, all of our servers now, to make sure that our official records of students, our financial records, have not been compromised," Griffin said.

Police at City College say they have already had dozens of calls from students and alumni worried they might be affected. ABC7 talked to one who says he is almost sure of it. Francis Lee had a slew of fraudulent credit card charges from 2005 to 2007, that until now, he never associated with the class he took at City College.

"A light bulb clicked in my head and I just remembered one of the fraudulent charges, I believe, was from Russia," he recalled.

Lee was in disbelief that the virus was not discovered sooner.

"I feel like if this has gone on for so long, like what else have they missed?" he asked.

Griffin says that question we are about to find out, as City College calls in the FBI and hires private security consultants.

"We're going to have to divert as many funds as we have, or can get, to dealing with this to make sure that our students are safe," he said.