THE University of Essex says it is offering support to students after an email blunder exposed sensitive data belonging to more than 400 individuals.

Students from the university are now seeking legal advice after the major data breach which led to the release of personal information.

It came in an email from a facilities management delivery partner of the university which requested payment for repairs to a broken door on a campus accommodation block.

However, the message also contained a spreadsheet full of information on residents, including student IDs, dates of birth and contact details – relating to 412 individuals in total.

Specialist data breach law firm Hayes Connor has called on the university to take steps to prevent a repeat of the incident as it begins its probe into what happened.

Gazette: Probe - the University of EssexProbe - the University of Essex

Christine Sabino, a legal specialist at the firm representing those affected, stated this incident is “a particularly worrying one”.

“The spreadsheet included on this email contained all kinds of crucial data on hundreds of people, so the seriousness of the issue should not be downplayed,” she said.

“Through our work, we have seen how breaches of this kind can have a big impact on those affected.

“It should also be remembered many of the individuals involved here are young adults living away from home for the first time. Some may be very worried about this or unsure what to do next.

“The individuals we have spoken to are desperate to know how this happened. They are also keen to understand what is being done to prevent more issues in the future.

“When individuals provide data to organisations of any kind, they trust the information will be handled in a secure and proper manner.

“Issues like this only serve to undermine that trust, so we are determined to help our clients get the answers they deserve.”

A University of Essex spokesman stated it is now supporting students involved in the breach.

He said: “We are taking this issue very seriously and ensuring our delivery partners understand our high expectations about the management of data.

“We’ve contacted all individuals involved to offer advice and support.”