Data Breach Exposes Teachers' Social Security Numbers Collected by a Texas Association

The district's communications director said that the information was essentially posted to the Internet.

by Gabriella Canales, Victoria Advocate, Texas / July 6, 2017
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(TNS) -- The Victoria school district was one of many districts affected by a data breach through the Texas Association of School Boards.

The association learned recently that personal information of employees became inadvertently visible to the public on the internet, according to a June 21 news release.

Victoria school officials have received several calls from concerned employees questioning whether the letter is legitimate or fake and how TASB is associated with the district, said Shawna Currie, school district communications director.

An email notification was sent to all Victoria school district employees with information from the association, she said.

"It wasn't a hacking into the system," Currie said. "The information was essentially posted to the internet."

The visible information included employees' names and Social Security numbers, according to a letter sent June 23 by James Crow, executive director of Texas Association of School Boards, to people who had their information exposed.

Action was taken immediately to fix the situation and secure the information.

A leading computer forensics firm assisted in conducting an investigation.

One year of credit monitoring and identity theft resolution services through Experian is being offered by the association.

"We are taking numerous steps to prevent something like this from happening again, including a comprehensive review of all of our data security measures," Crow wrote.

The association is a private, nonprofit group whose mission includes providing services to school districts and other educational entities.

One of the services includes administering a group unemployment insurance program for Texas school districts and other public educational entities.

The information had been submitted to TASB for required reporting to the Texas Workforce Commission as part of an unemployment compensation program.

School district employees and other entities that participate in the program administered by TASB are potentially effected.

Calhoun County ISD, Goliad ISD, Hallettsville ISD and Shiner ISD were affected in varying degrees, Barbara Williams, with the association's communications office, wrote in an email.

"We are still in the process of notifying people because of summer schedules but are doing all that we can to make sure employees get the information they need," Williams wrote.

No evidence has been found that the information was used in any way, she wrote.

The Victoria school district plans to stay in contact with TASB to get the most up-to-date information, Currie said.

"Security is highly important and we want to protect our employees," she said. "We feel TASB will take the necessary steps to prevent this from happening again."

©2017 Victoria Advocate (Victoria, Texas) Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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