The University of California has fallen victim to one of the worst ever security breaches at a US university, with some 800,000 people affected.

A hacker infiltrated a university database containing personal information of current and former students and faculty members, including names, social security numbers, dates of birth and home addresses that could potentially be used by identity thieves.

The attack reportedly exploited a software flaw to crack the database, UCLA said in notices sent to all 800,000 potential victims. It also said the attack was discovered on 21 November and immediately isolated.

The university notifying all 800,000 people affected as a precaution.

Computer security experts told the Los Angeles Times the number of people exposed made it one of the largest ever perpetrated against an American university.

A database at UCLA counterpart, USC containing 270,000 names was infiltrated in 2005.