A UVa TA accidentally sent a spreadsheet with 62 social security numbers to an entire class last week, and the provost is now telling faculty to erase any SSNs from their computers, Aaron Kessler reports for the Progress.
UVa has a terrible, terrible system by which they track students and staff — they use social security numbers as unique identifiers. So SSNs appear on all sorts of paperwork and grading information and student records, none of which are treated with anything approaching the level of security necessary for one’s SSN. Most schools long ago phased out that practice. As a Virginia Tech student, I was assigned a random nine digit number, because the school recognized that they had nothing to do with the U.S. Social Security Administration. In order to get a UVa computing ID for my job (I work for Virginia Quarterly Review) I had to give ITC my SSN, to my horror. But I also want to keep my job, so I forked it over.
The university says they’re working on phasing this out, but it’ll take until 2010. My advice to students? Lie. Don’t worry, Jefferson would have done the same.