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Has Your Child’s Info Been Compromised by a Data Breach?

Pearson Education, a London-based online educational program used by many school districts across the country, was recently hacked, affecting more than 13,000 school and university accounts.

by Elizabeth Doran, Syracuse Media Group / August 27, 2019

(TNS) — Has your child’s personal information been compromised?

Pearson Education, a London-based online educational program used by many school districts nationally, was recently hacked, affecting more than 13,000 school and university accounts. The company told customers — the schools and colleges — of the data breach late last month, according to media reports.  How many school districts and universities in Central New York and across New York state were affected isn’t clear. Pearson isn’t saying, so it’s up to schools to tell parents and students themselves.

One Central New York school at least was impacted: the Rome City school district.

Rome City Schools Superintendent Peter Blake sent a letter home to parents Aug. 15, telling them students in grades K- 8 had their information inadvertently disclosed due to the data breach. In all, information for about 6,000 students was accessible.

The data came from the 2013-14 academic year and included the student’s name, date of birth, school and school district of attendance, Blake said.

The district had contracted with Pearson to provide for a student assessment tool called AIMSweb, which required the storage of certain student data. That data was accessed by unauthorized users, Blake said.

AIMSWeb is a progress monitoring program mostly used used for ELA/Math test intervention and support for academic intervention services, Blake said.

“We understand that numerous school districts have been impacted by the breach, in several states across the country,” Blake said in the letter.

In the Rochester area, West Irondequoit, Victor, Brighton, Brockport, Pittsford, Fairport, Rochester and Webster have been affected, according to the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle.

Other districts hit include Schools of Osage in New Jersey, Fargo Public Schools in North Dakota, Chester County Intermediate Unit in Chester, Pa. and Flagstaff schools in Flagstaff, Ariz., according to a media report.

Blake said it doesn’t appear the information taken was misused, but Pearson has indicated it will offer complimentary credit monitoring from Experian for one year for affected individuals as a precautionary measure.

Pearson did not return a phone message from The Post Standard.

Blake said he found out about the breach two weeks ago, and wanted to be transparent with parents so he told them about the incident.

He said he’s heard that other local districts were impacted, but said it appears they are not going public with the information. He declined to identify the districts.

BOCES and state Education Department officials were contacted by The Post-Standard, but they did not comment on the breach or which districts were affected.

Pearson had the state’s $38 million contract for English language arts and math tests for students in grades 3-8. It lost the contract in 2016 after protests from parents and teacher groups.

Cyber attacks on schools and governments are on the rise.

Recently, the Syracuse City School District and Onondaga County Public Library were victims of a ransomware attack apparently originating in Eastern Europe.

©2019 Syracuse Media Group, N.Y. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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