Hackers put state employees on edge

Chico State University employees have reason to fear that their Social Security numbers may be in the hands of hackers. The California State Controller’s Office in Sacramento announced on May 28 that its computers at the Stephen P. Teale Data Center had been “illegally accessed.”

The machines contained all state employees’ names, Social Security numbers and data used to determine payroll deductions.

Once the intrusion was discovered, the computers were disconnected, reported state officials. The hacked files did not contain personal information such as bank account numbers, home addresses or phone numbers.

“We’re all in the same boat,” said Joe Wills, the university’s director of public affairs.

Wills hasn’t received any complaints, and the Controller’s Office maintains there has been no evidence “that the information will be used for unlawful purposes.” But free credit reports and credit counseling services are being offered to cautious employees.

The biggest concern is identity theft. Info-thieves can use Social Security numbers and other bits of data to access existing credit or bank accounts—or to open new credit accounts and tap them for every bit of value they might have.

Currently there are no suspects, but Controller Kathleen Connell assured state employees that her office was "working with law enforcement agencies and the Teale Data Center to ensure that this unfortunate intrusion does not repeat itself."