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Thousands of hackers target Utah's public colleges and universities each day.
So far, no one has succeeded in knocking down the eight schools' firewalls, college administrators told state lawmakers Monday. But security breaches at companies such as Target and universities nationwide are warning enough, they said. More state money is needed to thwart digital attacks.
Utah's colleges are "constantly under attack," said David Buhler, state higher education commissioner. "We don't want to be the next one on the list with a major breach in our system."
The network of schools needs slightly more than $2 million the same amount as last year to foil digital breakins, Buhler told the higher education budget committee.
College and university servers aren't the only ones at risk. Such attacks are on the rise in Utah, mostly due to the National Security Agency's massive data center in Bluffdale, state public safety managers said last week.
In a letter to legislators, Utah higher education officials said the statewide system lacks the staffers and resources it needs to combat "the sophisticated adversaries that we now face daily on the IT security front."
Administrators did not provide details about the number of attacks and who may have waged them.
Campus information officers and digital security watchdogs need a system-wide overhaul, including a new manager to oversee cybersecurity across the higher education system, more software to evaluate safeguards and a yearly outside security assessment.
It's not just hackers who have put personal identity information in jeopardy. An employee at Utah State University on Thursday mistakenly released the information of about 350 students, showing just how easily birthdates, Social Security numbers and other information can spread.
Stanford University in California, Georgia's Emory University and Indiana University also have made headlines for data breaches in recent years.
At the University of Maryland in February 2014, hackers probed 287,000 student and employee records spanning 22 years. The breach included names, Social Security numbers, dates of birth and other information for thousands of people who had university identification from 1998 to 2014. None of the records included health or financial information, the university said.
The committee didn't take final action on any requests Monday. Lawmakers will continue tinkering with the budget throughout the 45-day session.