Virginia Commonwealth University reported the largest data breach amongst higher education institutions in the United States in 2011, according to a recent analysis by Application Security’s research division TeamSHATTER.
The team gathered information on publicly reported data breaches reported by colleges and universities around the country in 2011 and ranked them in order of number of records breached to create March Madness-style bracket. Despite the fact that data breaches dominated headlines in 2011, higher education institutions fared better in 2011 than in previous years, TeamSHATTER found.
There was a dramatic decrease in both the number of higher education institutions and the volume of records that were compromised, according to the analysis. In 2011, 48 universities reported being breached, an improvement from the 57 breached in 2010. The biggest change is in the number of records breach, plummeting 70 percent in 2011 to 478,490 records, compared to 2010’s 1.7 million. In fact, 2011’s figures are at its lowest point since 2005, when Privacy Rights Clearinghouse began collecting the data.
While it was very encouraging to see the record-lows, TeamSHATTER advised IT teams higher education institutions "to proceed with very cautious optimism."
It’s quite possible that the drop in the number of breaches and volume of compromised records reflected the steps IT teams at universities have taken recently to protect their infrastructure, said Alex Rothacker, director of security research at TeamSHATTER.