Disagreement Over Source Of Data Breach

But FCPS says it will reach out to the 1,000 students affected.


Frederick, Md (KM)  There appears to be a disagreement between the Frederick County School System and the Maryland State Department of Education regarding the data breach affecting about 1,000 students. MSDE released a statement Monday it was not the source of the breach. But Frederick County says an investigation indicated that the information may have been stolen from the state, noting an attack on the department’s computers.

“Because this breach happened so long ago, it is not really possible to say for sure where or exactly how it happened,” said Dr. Theresa Alban, Superintendent of Frederick County Public Schools, in a video statement. “Even though the results of the investigation were not conclusive, it does not appear that the breach originated with FCPS.”

The School System last week announced that it was the victim of a data breach, where the names, Social Security numbers and dates of birth were hacked between November, 2005 and November 2006. “This data breach occurred before 2010, that was seven years ago this information has been out there,” says FCPS spokesman Michael Doerrer. “We were alerted to it in September, and it took three months for us to conduct a thorough investigation.” He says that investigation was concluded recently.

Doerrer says the School System will be reaching out to current and former students who were affected by the breach. “Those people will be receiving information this week about the services that we’re going to be providing, specifically those are credit monitoring services and identity protection services, and other resources and services,” he says. Those services will be provided by Kroll, a global leader in risk mitigation and response.

“The law says that the process for doing this kind investigation is to investigate first and then notify people. That minimizes the spread of information and helps aid the investigation,” says Doerrer.

So far, he says, the School System has information on about 1,000 people who were affected by this data breach. “I know that the foreign website that this information is available on claims to have more information,but we don’t know who those people are or what that information is.”

School System officials say the goal is to get this information off the internet. But Board of Education President Brad Young said that will be difficult because this data is on a foreign website.

Despite concerns about current public schools’ students data, Board of Education President Brad Young said changes have been since that data breach. “We know that practices, processes and safeguards both at FCPS and MSDE have evolved and strengthened over the intervening years since the breach,” he said. “For example, we no longer keep student Social Security numbers in our student information system. We also know that we’re taking immediate steps to help those affected by this breach.”

Those who have questions or concerns about FCPS information systems can send an e-mail to infosec@fcps.org, or call 301-644-5332.

 

By Kevin McManus