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Security

This week in security news

T-Mobile says an online attacker had gained access to its network. Also: Hackers steal ID info from Virginia university.

Wireless carrier T-Mobile this week acknowledged that an online attacker gained access to its network but denied reports that the criminal had the run of its network or had broadly threatened its customers' privacy.

The wireless carrier said Wednesday it discovered the breach in late 2003 and immediately took steps to lock out the intruder.

A subsequent investigation found that the unidentified person had accessed the names and Social Security numbers of 400 T-Mobile customers. The customers were notified in writing of the incident, the company said.

Online intruders also nabbed the personal information of more than 30,000 students, faculty and staff at George Mason University. The attackers broke into a server that held details used on campus identity cards.

A school representative said in an internal e-mail that the server "contained the names, photos, Social Security numbers and (campus ID) numbers of all members of the Mason community who have identification cards."

In other news, Microsoft released two "critical" patches and one "important" patch for its Windows operating system as part of its monthly update release. That announcement reflects a more active month than December, when the software giant issued no critical patches.

The system for releasing patches may soon get an overhaul as Microsoft recruits software testers to vet the company's patches before monthly fixes are released to the public. The Security Update Validation Program will let select corporate customers and consultants test Microsoft's software patches. However, the company has made the program invitation-only and does not expect to involve a large number of testers.