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Blackbaud Data Security Incident

The information below relates to a data security incident involving Blackbaud, Inc., a service provider of the WVU Foundation. Our organization takes our data protection responsibilities very seriously. We have launched our own investigation and further details are below, including steps we have taken in response.

The Incident

On July 16, 2020, we were contacted by Blackbaud, one of the world’s largest providers of customer relationship management systems for not-for-profit organizations and the higher education sector. Company representatives informed us that a Blackbaud service provider had been the victim of a ransomware attack that culminated in May 2020. The cybercriminal was unsuccessful in blocking access to the database involved in the attack. However, the cybercriminal was able to remove a copy of a subset of several of their client’s data. This included a subset of WVU Foundation data used for donor prospect research.

What information was involved?

We would like to reassure our constituents that a detailed forensic investigation was undertaken, on behalf of Blackbaud, by law enforcement and third-party cyber security experts.  

Blackbaud has confirmed that the investigation found that no encrypted information, such as Social Security numbers and bank account information or passwords, was accessible. Blackbaud also confirmed that no credit or debit card information was part of the data theft.

The WVU Foundation data accessed by the cybercriminal in the Blackbaud database may have contained some of the following information:

  • Public information such as name, title, date of birth, spouse
  • Addresses and contact details such as phone numbers and e-mail addresses
  • Philanthropic interests, giving capacity and summary giving history to WVU
  • Educational attainment

What actions were taken by Blackbaud?

We have been informed by Blackbaud that in order to protect constituent’s data and mitigate potential identity theft, it met the cybercriminal’s ransomware demand. Blackbaud has advised us that it has received assurances from the cybercriminal and third-party experts that the data was destroyed. Blackbaud has been monitoring the web in an effort to verify the data accessed by the cybercriminal has not been misused. 

Steps we have taken in response

We immediately launched our own investigation and have taken the following steps:

  • We are notifying affected constituents to make them aware of this breach of Blackbaud’s systems so they can remain vigilant;
  • We are working with Blackbaud to understand why there was a delay between it finding the breach and notifying us, as well as what actions Blackbaud is taking to increase its security;
  • We are taking steps to learn how many other parties in the higher education and the wider not-for-profit sector have been affected.

We do not believe there is a need for our constituents to take any action at this time. As a best practice, we recommend people remain vigilant and promptly report any suspicious activity or suspected identity theft to the proper authorities.

For questions related to the security incident, contact Mike Phillips, WVU Foundation Senior Director of Information Systems and Security, 304-284-4054,

We will continue to work with Blackbaud to investigate this incident. We very much regret the inconvenience that this data breach may have caused. Please be assured that we take data protection very seriously and are grateful for the continued support of our alumni and friends.

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