Saturday, May 18, 2013
Thief Steals Personal Info of 80,000 Alaska Students
Computer hard drive stolen from education offices in Juneau. Data on the hard drive includes test scores and disability status but education officials are not worried.
A security breach in the state capital has left the personal information of more than 80,000 Alaskan students in the hands of a thief, who stole a computer hard drive from the state's education offices in Juneau.
On that hard drive are data like test scores and disability status, but education officials say, they're not worried.
More than 80,000 students took two different state exams last April-- the state high school graduation exam and the state standards-based assessment exam. Most of them, about 77,000, were in third through 10th grade.
The state has information on all of them, including their test scores.
“A lot of the information about the students--such as gender, ethnicity or school they go to--is conveyed through numerical code, not word,” said Eric Fry, information officer with the state’s Department of Education and Early Development.
Fry said that coded information was temporarily stored on an external hard drive during a computer system upgrade last month. That hard drive was stolen the second week of February, and last week, education officials spread the word to all 54 school districts.
“As they said, there's not a high concern of identity theft because no social security numbers were involved,” said Heather Sawyer with Anchorage School District.
Fry said it’s “extremely unlikely that the thief will know what procedures he needs to undertake to open up that data, and it's almost inconceivable the thief will know what information he's looking at.”
“This theft occurred at a time when some other small pieces of electronic equipment were being stolen--things like head phones and thumb drives--and it leads us to think the thief simply wanted some equipment,” Fry said.
Fry said parents may change their children’s student identification numbers by calling (907) 465-8727.