Software Glitch Exposes 600 Student Accounts Online

Dennis Faas's picture

Ryerson University students and their families are very concerned this morning amidst reports that 600 student accounts were leaked through a software glitch that exposed Social Insurance numbers and personal information.

Although the problem was first reported to the Toronto, Canada school's information and privacy coordinator Heather Driscoll as early as December 27, the university was unable to correct the situation, which it may have felt was a one-time occurrence. "Based on the information from the first student we could get the scope of the problem," Driscoll admitted. "But we didn't have enough information to find [the error]." (Source:

Late in December, a student using Ryerson's Student Administration System stumbled upon the glitch, which enabled him to peruse at least 588 accounts. Some of the personal information available to the unnamed pupil included names, gender, birth dates, student numbers, home addresses, and most importantly, Social Insurance data. (Source:

Driscoll's hope that the issue was unlikely to recur again was dashed on January 9, when two more students notified Ryerson's administration that they had also stumbled upon the student accounts. At that point the school took more drastic action, implementing a patch it says fixed the error once and for all. An accounting firm has since audited the issue and confirmed that the gaping hole has indeed been closed.

Thousands Could Have Accessed Data

Unfortunately, in the time between December 27 and January 9 (a conservative window, no doubt), as many as 363 other students may have been able to access that information through the glitch. Ryerson now says that it is investigating the extent of the information leaked.

It's not yet publicly known how the students who reported the issue stumbled upon the glitch or the information. However, investigators already suspect that the glitch itself was probably caused by updates to the school's Student Administration System made in November.

Thus, it's feasible that the hole could have been open throughout late November, December, and early January. That could mean thousands of students had access to vital data for other students.

Established in 1948, Ryerson is one of Canada's most respected universities for studies in arts and media. With 25,000 undergraduate students and another 2,000 grad students taking close to 100 PhD, Master's, and undergrad programs, this oversight is not in line with the school's impressive reputation. (Source:

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