Security & Privacy

Ransomware Breach Strikes 700 Texas Students

A compromised computer led to a data breach in Texas affecting 39 school districts. According to a security notice posted on the Texas Department of Agriculture, an employee's state-issued laptop was infected with a ransomware virus. The machine was storing sensitive personal information on 700 students and their families, including names, Social Security numbers, addresses, birth dates and phone numbers. All were part of school breakfast and lunch programs, which are managed by the state agency.

The agency emphasized that it had no evidence suggesting misuse of the information that was gathered through the ransomware exploit.

However, in remarks to the Texas Standard, Doug Levin, head of EdTech Strategies, said this kind of data is compiled by criminals who use it for creating fake identities and stealing "public resources." Levin maintains a K-12 cyber incident map, which has documented 286 incidents since January 2016.

The agency encouraged those affected to register with the "three major credit bureaus" to activate free fraud alerts. The list included Equifax, which was, itself, hit by a massive data breach last year, exposing the sensitive information of 143 million Americans.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.