San Diego Unified School District officials are informing parents and former students of a large data breach. Personal data including Social Security numbers from as many as 500,000 students was compromised or possibly stolen, officials say.
The breach dating back to January 2018 was uncovered in October by district IT employees who were investigating phishing emails.
“Staff determined an unauthorized person or persons, was gathering network access log-in information from staff and using that information to log into the district’s network services, including the district student database,” the district states.
Student records from 2008 up to the present are impacted, district officials told NBC 7. Families of students whose data may have been accessed have been contacted by the district, spokesperson Maureen Magee said.
Birth dates, Social Security numbers, state student identification numbers, addresses, phone numbers, health enrollment or savings/flex spending account information and discipline incident information are examples of what may have been exposed, according to the district.
For select members of staff, the information may also include tax information, routing numbers and account numbers as well as viewable paychecks.
"We are not able to confirm, specifically, whether your personal data was viewed or copied from our systems as a result of this incident. We only know that the viewing or copying of some personal data was possible or occurred between January 2018 and November 1, 2018," district officials state in the letter to parents.
Officials said the breach also allowed the unauthorized person the ability to alter data within those systems.
Staff members were notified immediately about the breach and were able to reset their accounts, the district said.
Read the entire letter here.
More than 121,000 students are served by the San Diego Unified School District, the second largest school district in the state of California.
Because the breach includes former students, district officials estimate nearly a half of a million students and former students may be impacted by this data breach.
The San Diego Unified School Police Department and employees with the district's IT department are investigating the data breach.
"We have continued to implement and explore additional security measures, and continue to review and audit our practices to prevent this from happening again," district officials said.
District officials said the information they can release was limited because the investigation into what happened is ongoing.
They advise students and former students to pay attention to their credit information and report any unusual or unexpected activity to credit card companies or credit reporting agencies.
A local campus police officer of the School Police Dispatch may be contacted at (619) 291-7678 to file a police report, district officials said.
This is a developing story.