Dallas ISD data breach may have exposed social security numbers, information of students, staff – The Dallas Morning News

dallas-isd-data-breach-may-have-exposed-social-security-numbers,-information-of-students,-staff-–-the-dallas-morning-news

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The personal information and social security numbers of Dallas ISD students, alumni and staff may have been exposed in a data breach discovered last month.

While DISD officials don’t believe the stolen information has been shared or sold, they can’t be “100 percent certain” until further forensic analysis has been completed.

DISD officials contacted federal law enforcement authorities and assigned an IT team and forensic consultants to address vulnerabilities exploited during the breach.

“We regret any inconvenience this incident may have caused and believe it is our responsibility to inform the public that we are taking steps to notify individuals whose records have been impacted,” a statement posted to the district’s website read.

Data exposed in the breach may include names, addresses, phone numbers, social security numbers, dates of birth, dates of employment, salary information and reasons for ending employment of current and former employees.

Additionally, the names, social security numbers, dates of birth, guardian contact information, grades, custody status and medical conditions of current and former students may have been exposed.

The district warned current and former Dallas ISD students, employees and contractors dating back to 2010 that their data was likely exposed in the breach.

“To date, our cybersecurity experts have found no evidence indicating the data was otherwise accessed, disseminated, or sold,” district officials wrote on their website. “However, we cannot be 100% sure until our ongoing investigation is complete.”

On Friday, DISD plans to post a hotline number to call with further information. The district is offering those affected credit monitoring and identity theft protection services.

The district learned weeks ago -- on Aug. 8 -- of the data breach. District officials noted that they immediately deployed a team to investigate what happened, limit how the data was shared and implement extra security measures. Law enforcement was notified, according to a website the district set up to answer questions about the breach.

“We cannot comment further on law enforcement involvement at this time,” officials wrote.

Schools across the country have been victims of data breaches in recent years.

A recent report from the Government Accountability Office analyzed 99 student data breaches reported from July 1, 2016 through May 5, 2020 that compromised the data of thousands of kids in 287 school districts.

A San Antonio school district, Judson ISD, recently paid more than half a million dollars in ransom during a cyber attack earlier this summer. The district reportedly paid the ransom to prevent sensitive information from being published, according to Texas Public Radio.

To prevent further breaches, DISD plans to conduct a comprehensive review of its systems and implement additional security measures.

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The DMN Education Lab deepens the coverage and conversation about urgent education issues critical to the future of North Texas.

The DMN Education Lab is a community-funded journalism initiative, with support from The Beck Group, Bobby and Lottye Lyle, Communities Foundation of Texas, The Dallas Foundation, Dallas Regional Chamber, Deedie Rose, The Meadows Foundation, Solutions Journalism Network, Southern Methodist University and Todd A. Williams Family Foundation. The Dallas Morning News retains full editorial control of the Education Lab’s journalism.

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