Even though most of us seniors are nearing the end of the tedious college process, we are still not free of College Board’s wrath.
The higher-education tycoon, which sends standardized test scores to colleges and connects students with schools that match their academic and extracurricular credentials, recently sent out an email to many of its members stating that there had been a security leak by its email vender Epsilon, possibly exposing these members to spam and security leaks. Epsilon, which has the ability to send out 15 million emails per minute, also had emails hacked from Citigroup, Target, Walgreens and TiVo, to name a few.
On a normal basis I still get biweekly emails from the College Board alerting me that have I “forgotten” to sign up for the next SAT/ACT (last time I checked I was admitted to college and graduating in two months).
I was not too concerned when I received a message from the corporation titled “NOTIFICATION FROM THE COLLEGE BOARD.” The message began by stating that Epsilon had been hacked by unauthorized entry into their system, and that my email address had now been disclosed to “unknown third parties.” After quickly declaring that “rest assured this vender did not have access to my credit card and social security numbers” they comforted me with the statement that my privacy was taken “very seriously.”
If my privacy was taken seriously in the first place, then why was my personal information not guarded initially? And if the information was hacked, then how can we be sure that credit card information and social security numbers were not leaked? While I am sitting here terrified of the possibility of identity theft, probably the worst that will happen is a horde of spam emails clogging our inboxes (because the J. Crew and Nordstrom sales promotions weren’t taking up enough space…).
This is just one of the many examples of how our privacy is often put on the backburner so these companies can use our information for advertising purposes. Even though many politicians claim that our internet is “public domain,” am I wrong in believing that email should be considered confidential personal information? So, thank you, College Board and Epsilon, for allowing our privacy to be violated and exposing us to the onslaught of spam which is about to invade our inboxes.
This scenario is not the only situation which could infringe on the security of college-bound seniors. Prospective students are also required to use their credit card and social security numbers when applying online to schools or using the Common Application. When filling out financial aid forms, they are required to put their family’s complete financial history including tax records and household incomes. If this information were to be leaked, substantial amounts of classified information would then be at risk.
Luckily, since the Epsilon leak I have not received an abnormally large amount of spam and as far as I know no one is running around using my identity. However, putting the information of students at risk for identity and confidentiality catastrophes should not be tolerated, and exposes us to risks that can plague us for the rest of our lives.