Pearson breach affects ND schools, officials trying to figure out how many

Published: Aug. 13, 2019 at 4:03 PM CDT
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A software breach could affect more schools in our area than initially thought. Bismarck Public Schools posted a letter Monday letting people know a vendor, Pearson Clinical Assessment, experienced a nationwide breach and some data of BPS students and faculty is at risk.

The state's IT department says in a worst case scenario, as many as 58 school districts, with 71,000 students, could have had data stolen. We don't know the true number yet. IT says it hopes to have more information this week, but it will be an ongoing process. Some of the information obtained was already publicly available, like faculty emails.

Here's what we know about the breach:

“We deal with these kind of attacks on a day to day basis. We have outside actors, we have nation-state actors that're coming at North Dakota on a constant basis,” said Shawn Riley, North Dakota’s Chief Information Officer.

IT says of the 58 districts at risk, six received a letter about the breach, while one is reaching out to the company. The hack doesn’t include Social Security numbers or financial data. Riley says hackers could spoof the emails and get that data from people.

Pearson says in a letter dated July 19, there’s no evidence the information was misused and it is offering free credit monitoring services.

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