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Johns Hopkins Data Spilled In 'Extortion' Attempt

BALTIMORE (WJZ) -- Johns Hopkins University is hit by a hacker. The university and the FBI are investigating a data breach involving hundreds of staff and students.

Pat Warren reports on what was stolen.

The database was compromised late last year, but Hopkins says much of the information stolen was already available on its public website.

Johns Hopkins University joins the list of targets in the theft of information.

"I've never felt concerned about it, but maybe I should be now. I didn't really think about it in the past, but it's definitely something to consider," student Phoebe Morgan said.

The Hopkins data breach involves data stolen by a hacker who claimed to be a member of the hackers group Anonymous.

A spokesman says the hacker threatened to post the data unless the university provided user ID and password credentials to access the university network.

The data involved the university's biomedical engineering department.

"We alerted the FBI right away and yesterday the FBI got back to us and said they found the data was on the Internet," said Dennis O'Shea, JHU Office of Communications.

"I'm not really concerned about it. A lot of stuff is public knowledge anyway," student Enya Baez said.

While a breach at the University of Maryland saw thousands of birthdates and social security numbers were stolen, Hopkins reports its data was more public.

"Right, no credit cards were involved, no social security numbers, no birthdates, nothing that could really enable anybody to commit identity theft," O'Shea said.

Still, it leaves some students on edge.

"It certainly is very alarming to me," said Kidist Ketema.

"It is something to consider. The university does serious work."

And is moving to protect itself.

"Research universities like Johns Hopkins get attacks like this many times a day because of the nature of the information we have and the nature of our infrastructure," said O'Shea. "So it's important for us always to be on guard."

Around 850 current and former students were included in the breach. Those former students are being contacted as well.

The students were involved in problem solving classes between 2006 and 2013.

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