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November 14 , 2006 :: Stolen Laptop with Student Financial Aid Files Recovered

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A laptop stolen from Connors State College, Warner, in October has been recovered by law enforcement. The laptop contained a file pertaining to students enrolled at Connors and also a file pertaining to students eligible for the Oklahoma Higher Learning Access Program (OHLAP) who are not enrolled at Connors.

The OHLAP file contained personal information for 22,500 individuals who have graduated from high school and are currently qualified for the OHLAP scholarship program. The file did not include information about OHLAP-enrolled students who have not yet graduated from high school.

Connors obtained the list from the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education, who administer the program, through a secure site in order to determine which students enrolled at their institution were eligible for the scholarship program. The security of the State Regents’ site was not breached.

However, after accessing the file, Connors’ staff transferred the file to a laptop computer on the campus that was subsequently stolen.

Although the State Regents’ password protected site was not compromised, staff have since removed the files as a precautionary measure as they work with all institutions on implementing stricter guidelines for the management and use of confidential data. This will include stringent security protocols that will protect the information of participants in the OHLAP and all other OSRHE programs from future compromises at the institutional level.

“We discovered the theft on Oct. 15 and contacted law enforcement right away,” said Connors President Donnie Nero. “We traced every document and file that could have been on the laptop and discovered it had the OHLAP files. We notified the OHLAP office on Nov. 1.”

OHLAP officials worked with Connors’ staff to verify their conclusions about the laptop and the data, and were prepared to send out a notice to the students on Nov. 7. However, OHLAP staff was informed by Connors on Nov. 6 that the laptop had been recovered.

State of the art computer forensics tests conducted by a credentialed forensics team began on Tuesday, Nov. 7. The OHLAP staff received a report on Nov. 9 stating the tests were inconclusive as to whether the file had been accessed.

Connors has no other evidence indicating the personal information was accessed or used for illegal or malicious activities.
A letter from Nero to the individuals whose information was contained in the file was mailed on Nov. 13.

Individuals who have graduated from high school and are currently qualified for the OHLAP scholarship program who have questions should first call the Connors Human Resources Office and ask for Ms. Perline Boyattia at 918.463.6267. This telephone number is staffed Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. (CST). Inquiries may also be e-mailed to Boyattia at perline@connorsstate.edu.

Further inquiries may be made to OHLAP toll-free at 1.800.858.1840 (select the OHLAP option from the menu), at 405.225.9152 for local calls in the Oklahoma City area or by e-mail to okpromise@osrhe.edu.