Students, faculty and alumni from the University of Hawaii will receive two years of free credit monitoring and fraud restoration services as part of a settlement to a class action lawsuit stemming from five data breaches between 2009 and 2011.
According to a press release from Grande Law Offices, the firm representing the class, the settlement will affect nearly 100,000 people connected with UH-Manoa, UH-West Oahu, Kapio'lani Community College and Honolulu Community College.
Pending court approval of the settlement, the university system will also be required to send a notice to all class members by March 1 informing them about the credit monitoring services and how they can sign up online.
"We have researched more than 40 data breaches at colleges and universities across the country. In almost every instance, two years of credit monitoring and fraud restoration were offered to data breach victims," said attorney Bruce Sherman in a statement. "Offering two years of credit monitoring and fraud restoration services to breach victims should be the standard response by any breaching entity in Hawaii, including government agencies."
In the settlement, the university denied liability for the data breach, but stated that it was pleased to provide the credit monitoring and restoration services to those affected.
"The university continues to work diligently so that the chance of future data breaches is significantly reduced. Given the uncertainties and expense of litigation, the university believes this settlement is in the best interests of the university and its entire Ohana," the university said in a statement.
In June 2011, attorneys from Grande Law Offices decried the university's data security practices, alleging that the school system did not do enough to protect the information of its students, alumni and faculty. In a report sent to the university, the attorneys offered 22 changes that could be used to improve data security.
One vulnerability that the report pointed was a lack of centralized information management throughout the school system. The attorneys also accused the university of not allocating the necessary funds in its budget toward the protection of information.
However, the attorneys appear to be pleased with the outcome of the settlement. Thomas Grande, another attorney representing the class, noted that the credit monitoring services typically cost between $5 and $15 per month, adding that the firm was "extremely pleased that the university has negotiated a settlement package that provides these services to every class member who wants them."
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