No Questionable Calls Here: The March Madness Meets Higher Education Data Breach “Brackets” Are Back!Team Shatter Exclusive

Posted March 18, 2013 by TeamSHATTER Admin in Data Breach, Database Security, Education, Team Shatter Exclusive, Uncategorized with 2 comments

March Madness is here! Yesterday, the NCAA Selection Committee selected 68 teams to participate in this year’s NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship.  While fans across the country are sneaking out of the office to watch games, breaking out the ol’ college sweatshirts, and betting Vegas-style, we are joining the fun for the Third Annual Higher Education Data Breach Madness “Brackets.”

Just like in previous years, the data breach madness “bracket” is determined solely by the number of reported breaches in 2012.  Every college or university that reported a breach was seeded (ranked) based on the number of records compromised. From there, the institutions went head to head.  The larger the breach, the further they went in the tournament, until the winner (the institution with the most records compromised in 2012) is crowned. You can check out last year’s blog post and corresponding bracket here.

Although the number of reported breaches in 2012 is relatively low compared with what we have seen in past years (51 suffered breaches), the number of compromised records is at an all-time high (1,977,412).  The records stolen in 2012 are more than three times the numbers in 2011 (478,490). These numbers just show how smart the attackers are getting – when there IS a breach, it does quite the damage!

Without further ado, the 2012 Higher Education Data Breach Madness “champion” is. . . University of Nebraska, which reported a breach of 654,000 on May 25, 2012.

2012 Higher Education Data Breach Madness Brackets

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Rounding out the 2012 “Final Four” are the University of North Carolina at Charlotte (350,000), Arizona State University (300,000) and Northwest Florida State College (279,000).

Year-by-Year All-Time Data Breach Madness “Final Four”

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This past year was the first since 2009 that each institution in the “Final Four” saw a breach of 100,000 or more compromised records. Currently, there are 25 institutions since 2005 that have seen such substantial data loss.

Year-By-Year U.S. Higher Education Data Breach Totals


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The University of Nebraska breach ranks #3 as one of the all-time worst higher education breaches since recording began in 2005. In fact, all “Final Four” institutions in this year’s Data Breach Madness brackets were also included in the top ten higher education breaches of all time – making 2012 a record-year in the number of records stolen.

Top Ten Higher Education Data Breaches of All-Time

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The past year has showed us that hackers are getting smarter at stealing information, with record highs in the amount of data stolen. This has been the worst year since 2006, when there were 86 breaches reported and 2,037,050 records stolen.  We know a lot more than we did in 2006 on how to thwart hackers’ efforts, so why is this still happening? What does this mean for 2013?

Best of luck to all of you whose alma maters will be vying for the national championship and fingers crossed that none of yours made our Data Breach Madness Final Four!


  1. posted on 19 March 2013

    How did you miss this. 235k exposed. Should have been close to final four. A sister to school to Central CT

  2. posted on 21 March 2013

    You’re right, somehow we completely missed this one. Good find and clearly March Madness worthy.

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