Data breaches seem to be happening with greater frequency all the time, and businesses and government organizations appear to be effected with considerable regularity. The most recent such massive incident exposed more than 47,000 people who participated in a program that prepares people in Florida for teaching positions.
The Florida Department of Education recently revealed that it suffered a data breach at Florida State University that exposed the personal information of everyone who participated in its teacher preparation programs between the 2009-10 and 2011-12 academic years, which was accessible online for a period of 14 days from late May until security hole was finally close on June 11.
“This is unacceptable,” said Tony Bennett, the state’s Commissioner of Education. “All Floridians deserve our unceasing protection of their personal information and must have confidence that it will never be exposed for the potential of illegal use. I have ordered a top to bottom review of the security of every database and our staff is expediting the transfer of all confidential information into servers directly monitored and secured by the department.”
The incident occurred when the data was moved to a new server by the school’s Florida Center for Interactive Media, but then did not put proper security measures into place, the report said. As a consequence, the sensitive information was accessible via a simple Web search for those two weeks, and during that time it was apparently accessed some 23 times, potentially including people who did not have authorization to view it.
Though the state is now trying to contact all the victims who were impacted by the breach, and will provide them identity theft protection, it has also set up a hotline that allows them to ask any questions they might have or gain assistance for the potential fallout, the report said. Further, it is urging victims to keep close tabs on their financial records to make sure they have not been adversely affected by the incident.
Data breaches can expose not only consumers’ financial data, but also their personal information, and once that is out in the world, it is extremely difficult to remediate. For this reason, it is often wise for Americans to regularly order copies of their credit reports to ensure that no one has opened an account in their name and without their permission.