Major Data Breach Leads Stanford University Executive to Resign

The chief digital officer of Stanford’s Graduate School of Business has resigned after the university failed to disclose a data breach of personal information.

According to the SF Gate, Ranga Jayaraman, who had worked at Stanford for six years, e-mailed colleagues Saturday morning to announce his resignation.

“I take full responsibility for the failure to recognize the scope and nature of the … data exposure and report it in a timely manner to the dean and the University Information Security and Privacy Office,” said Jayaraman. “I would like to express my most sincere apologies … to anyone whose personal information might potentially have been compromised.”

The data breach came to light after Adam Allcock, an MBA student, revealed that thousands of confidential student financial aid records were visible to those within the business school. Student information was not the only data people could see, employee information such as social security numbers of nearly 10,000 employees and former employees were visible, according to a report by the SF Gate.

Allcock alerted technology officials and also analyzed the financial aid data on how the business school awarded scholarship money. His study revealed that despite claims that tuition discounts were awarded on a student need basis that was not the case. For years, the business school had been awarding discounts to non-needy applicants in hopes of attracting international students, women and students with a finance background.

Allcock showed his data analysis to Jonathan Levin, the business school’s dean, alerting officials for the second time of the data breach in October. This time, Stanford officials confirmed a separate data breach, which was revealed by the Stanford Daily.

The university apologized for its failure to disclose their mishandling of confidential information and informed thousands of people who were affected.

Jayaraman told the SF Chronicle that he didn’t intend to deceive anyone when he decided not to tell campus officials.

“A decision like that is always a judgment call,” said Jayaraman. “I thought we’d done a detailed enough evaluation, and we didn’t hear there was super-sensitive information, so I decided to let it go.”

NBC Bay Area reached out to Stanford University for comment and did not immediately respond. 

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