updated 1/11/2005 7:59:15 PM ET 2005-01-12T00:59:15

Computer hackers captured the names, Social Security numbers and other information of more than 30,000 students and staff at George Mason University earlier this month, school officials said Monday.

The university, which is in Fairfax, near Washington D.C., discovered on Jan. 3 that intruders had hacked into a server containing the protected information, school spokesman Daniel Walsch said. He said the university notified all students and staff.

The school established an information hot line and turned the case over to campus police, Walsch said.

"We don't know if this is an inside job or an outside job at this point," he said.

Before the hacking, the university was in the process of replacing students' Social Security numbers with other internal numbers to protect against identity theft. That was in response to a law passed last year requiring Social Security numbers to be removed from various ID cards to deter identity theft.

Officials shut down part of the server after learning about the hacking, and are reviewing other computer security measures, he said.

Last year, a security hole in an unsecured computer at the University of California, Berkeley, allowed hackers to steal 1.4 million personal records of the state's in-home care receivers. In 2003, the Georgia Institute of Technology and the University of Texas at Austin had protected information stolen by hackers.

Copyright 2005 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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