Teachers at Austin Community College Have Personal Data Exposed in Breach

Media Division | August 4, 2017

Virtually any type of data that we now store through digital means can be highly valuable to cyber attackers and their malicious purposes. Hence, why so many different types of organizations and institutions are continually targeted. One industry that has definitely seen its fair share of attacks and breaches is education, as many different schools and other facilities have been hit by attacks like ransomware, phishing, and much more. Just earlier this year, we saw the severe ransomware attack on LA Valley Community College which resulted in them having to pay out quite a large amount of money to retrieve their data. But, breaches can also come about from ways other than an external attacker, such as improper data handling. In a case of this, some educational institutions across Texas suffered a data breach that led to the exposure of several teacher’s information.

Sensitive Information Exposed

The news of this breach came about when teachers at various schools had received an email at the end of June stating that their personal information had been inadvertently posted online. Unfortunately, the breach included highly sensitive data like names and Social Security numbers, which can be used to commit fraud or sold on the black market. According to the Texas Association of School Boards (TASB), this information had become accessible through an online application that they use to report wages to the Texas Workforce Commission. Upon discovering this, they had taken the application offline, determined which employers had been affected, and sent notices of the breach to school district employees. The breach was initially discovered on May 22nd, but they did not know how long the information had been accessible. TASB’s FAQ about the incident says that there is currently no evidence of misuse of the information. They have set up a hotline for people to call with any questions regarding the incident, and the TASB is also offering a free year of credit monitoring to those affected. In addition, they have since strengthened their security protocols on their website.

Breaches like this are just plain ridiculous, being that they can easily be prevented when an organization implements and follows proper security measures. Organizations that jeopardize their employees or customers through simple data mishandling have no excuse, as these types of basics should always be at the forefront of any information storage. Especially with data like Social Security numbers, which could be held onto by those with malicious intent and used much later, which leaves those affected having to constantly remain vigilant. There is far too much critical information now stored through digital methods for organizations to make blatant mistakes like this.

Employing Comprehensive Data Breach Solutions

When it comes to suffering a breach, there are a series of steps that an organization must rapidly employ to properly mitigate it, which come under the heading of data breach solutions. These include things like plugging the immediate hole, removing data from the web, notifying and protecting those affected, and bolstering security for the future. Neglect or carelessness in any of the above can result in much further detriment to an organization. For instance, if those affected are not properly cared for, it can result in lost employees and customers, and in turn, loss of revenue. Being frank, an improperly handled data breach can cause an organization to tank in some cases. Many organizations may not have the resources to adequately perform the above steps, which is where they need to enlist outside help. Massive Alliance offers comprehensive data breach solutions that can help organizations to bounce back after an incident.

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