1M Survey Participants' Info Stolen in Washington State University Safe Theft

Education // Olympia, Washington, United States

A burglar made off with a USB drive with the sensitive information of about 1 million Washington State University survey participants, though it’s unclear whether the data was the target.

In April, university officials discovered a safe was stolen from an off-site storage facility; the USB drive was inside. The drive stored backup files for the university’s Social & Economic Sciences Research Center, which designs social science surveys and evaluations on topics like academic success and employment rates, The Spokesman-Review reported.

The drive housed personal information such as Social Security numbers and, in some instances, personal health information from people it surveyed at school districts, community colleges and other customers, the WSU’s alert said.

The center’s past customers include federal agencies, such as the Agriculture Department, the National Institutes of Health, the National Park Service and others, according to its website.

The university is notifying potential victims by mail, set up a dedicated call center and launched a review of the IT operations.