updated 3/17/2005 2:53:11 PM ET 2005-03-17T19:53:11

Boston College officials have warned 120,000 alumni that their personal information may have been stolen when an intruder hacked into a school computer containing the addresses and Social Security numbers of BC graduates.

BC spokesman Jack Dunn told The Boston Globe on Thursday that officials don't believe the hacker accessed the personal information, but instead planted a program that could be used to launch attacks on other machines. Still, amid rising concerns about identity theft, the school sent letters to its alumni.

"As a precaution we have chosen to alert the entire database," Dunn said of the letters sent last Friday.

The letters urge alumni to protect their identities and financial accounts by contacting their banks and warning them that their Social Security numbers may have been stolen.

The compromised computer at Boston College was not run by the school, but by an outside contractor Dunn did not identify. It was used to look up the names and phone numbers of graduates for the purpose of soliciting donations.

During a routine security check last week, school employees found the machine had been invaded, and it was taken off-line.

"There's no evidence to suggest that this involved anyone from the Boston College community, but instead was an external hacker," Dunn said.

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 This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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