Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Risk

Loan Companies Abusing Student Database

Financial companies accused of unauthorized mining of National Student Loan Data System

Usually, violations of database security come from those who aren't authorized to access the data. But in an unusual turn of events, some financial firms are now under fire for misusing a database that was built partly for them.

The National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS), a database operated by the federal government, contains private information on approximately 60 million students. It was created in 1993 to help universities and lenders share information on students' eligibility for student loans, and to help lenders collect payments.

In the last week, however, there have been several reports of growing concern among the database's operators -- and university financial aid professionals -- that lenders are "mining" the database for potential sales and refinancing leads.

The system allows students, universities, and financial institutions to access loan information -- typically just one record at a time -- in order to check on the status of a loan or a student's eligibility. Lenders are not supposed to be able to access the system unless they have the student's permission or a legitimate complaint against a non-paying student.

But a report in yesterday's Washington Post said that lenders' queries to the database have become so rampant that the Education Department was considering a temporary shutdown of the system. Sen Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) earlier today sent a letter to Education Secretary Margaret Spellings, asking the department to block lenders from the database until the allegations could be investigated.

The NSLDS does not say which vendor's database it uses, although its privacy policy does say that the system is housed offsite by a contractor. Each individual who uses the database is given a separate user ID and password, and students are required to use a PIN and a Social Security number to gain access to their own records, the NSLDS site says.

Two years ago, an audit report by the Assistant Inspector General found that there were significant security problems with the NSLDS database. One of the chief complaints was that there was insufficient effort to verify the identities of third parties and contractors who accessed the system.

Officials say the federal government has spent more than $650,000 since 2003 to secure the database, and that it has blocked numerous unauthorized attempts to access the system. However, the man formerly in charge of the NSLDS, Matteo Fontana, was accused earlier this month of holding more than $100,000 in stock from a student loan company.

— Tim Wilson, Site Editor, Dark Reading

Tim Wilson is Editor in Chief and co-founder of Dark Reading.com, UBM Tech's online community for information security professionals. He is responsible for managing the site, assigning and editing content, and writing breaking news stories. Wilson has been recognized as one ... View Full Bio

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
Cybersecurity Team Holiday Guide: 2019 Gag Gift Edition
Ericka Chickowski, Contributing Writer,  12/2/2019
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon Contest
Current Issue
Navigating the Deluge of Security Data
In this Tech Digest, Dark Reading shares the experiences of some top security practitioners as they navigate volumes of security data. We examine some examples of how enterprises can cull this data to find the clues they need.
Flash Poll
Rethinking Enterprise Data Defense
Rethinking Enterprise Data Defense
Frustrated with recurring intrusions and breaches, cybersecurity professionals are questioning some of the industrys conventional wisdom. Heres a look at what theyre thinking about.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2019-19647
PUBLISHED: 2019-12-09
radare2 through 4.0.0 lacks validation of the content variable in the function r_asm_pseudo_incbin at libr/asm/asm.c, ultimately leading to an arbitrary write. This allows remote attackers to cause a denial of service (application crash) or possibly have unspecified other impact via crafted input.
CVE-2019-19648
PUBLISHED: 2019-12-09
In the macho_parse_file functionality in macho/macho.c of YARA 3.11.0, command_size may be inconsistent with the real size. A specially crafted MachO file can cause an out-of-bounds memory access, resulting in Denial of Service (application crash) or potential code execution.
CVE-2019-19642
PUBLISHED: 2019-12-08
On SuperMicro X8STi-F motherboards with IPMI firmware 2.06 and BIOS 02.68, the Virtual Media feature allows OS Command Injection by authenticated attackers who can send HTTP requests to the IPMI IP address. This requires a POST to /rpc/setvmdrive.asp with shell metacharacters in ShareHost or ShareNa...
CVE-2019-19637
PUBLISHED: 2019-12-08
An issue was discovered in libsixel 1.8.2. There is an integer overflow in the function sixel_decode_raw_impl at fromsixel.c.
CVE-2019-19638
PUBLISHED: 2019-12-08
An issue was discovered in libsixel 1.8.2. There is a heap-based buffer overflow in the function load_pnm at frompnm.c, due to an integer overflow.