The personal information — including some credit card and bank account numbers — of about 70,000 people who gave money to Brock University has been stolen from the school's computers by a hacker.
Terry Boak, Brock's vice-president academic, said the digital intruder had the secret passwords needed to access the file listing of possibly every individual to ever donate to the university.
"It wasn't just someone who hacked in by playing around with it," Boak said. "So, you start thinking about how these passwords were obtained."
Boak said the hacker tapped into the system on Sept. 22 at 5:27 p.m. ET, taking only four minutes to make off with the file containing thousands of names, birthdates and e-mail addresses.
About 90 credit card numbers and some 270 bank account details were also in the file.
Boak said those people were called within 24 hours, while the remaining thousands received a letter in the mail explaining what had happened.
He said the school didn't see the "value" in issuing a public announcement or news release about the breach because all those directly affected had already been notified.
Niagara Regional Police are investigating.