Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Lost flash drive compromises data for thousands of students

More than 20,000 students across 36 schools in the Boston Public School (BPS) system had their data compromised when the district's ID card vendor Plastic Card Systems lost a flash drive containing the information.
How many victims? 21,054 students.
What type of personal information? Names, schools, ages, grades, ID numbers, library card numbers and CharlieCard numbers (used on smartcards to pay for Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority travel). ID photos for roughly 14,000 students also were included on the flash drive.
What happened?  Plastic Card Systems picked up the flash drive from a BPS location. The vendor reported later that day that the memory stick was missing.
What was the response? Plastic Card Systems reported the drive as missing on a Friday and the drive did not turn up after being searched for throughout the weekend. BPS is changing the design of their student ID cards. In addition it is invalidating affecting CharlieCard and library card numbers. Families of affected students received phone calls and were sent letters.
Details: Plastic Card Systems picked up the drive from a BPS location on Aug. 9 and lost it later that day. BPS high schools were affected, as well as some middle schools spanning grades 6 to 12. Elementary schools, K-8 schools and standalone middle schools were not affected. Students are expected to receive new ID badges on schedule at the beginning of the school year.
Quote: “It is important to emphasize the information on the drive is limited to what appears on ID badges – and this cannot be used to access student records,” said John McDonough, BPS interim superintendent.
“Plastic Card Systems deeply regrets the unfortunate accidental loss of the Boston Public Schools student data files, and we understand how families will be upset, as we are upset, by the situation,” said Plastic Card Systems President Don Axline. “We will make all efforts to help Boston Public Schools in addressing this situation and will assist in any way possible to quickly rectify the situation.”

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