Elmbrook School District in Wisconsin experienced a cyber security breach that compromised the names and Social Security numbers of current and former employees, even after the district was aware of the problem.
According to Elmbrook School Chief Strategy Officer Chris Thompson, the district learned of the breach on August 23, 2022, and files were removed from August 23-27, 2022. The district has offered a one-year complimentary membership to a credit monitoring service to those affected.
The initial group of employees affected was informed in late September and October 2022, Thompson said. The district then worked with a third-party company to conduct a forensics investigation on all the breached files, which identified additional people whose information was compromised.
Thompson said the breach also targeted other K-12 school districts across the country, and that the district was never locked out of its files nor was there a ransom request for those files. To improve the district's data security, the district has partnered with a security service firm to provide 24/7 managed services of its network.
Thompson said all active employees and some of their dependents, if they were on the district's insurance plan, were affected, as well as more recent former employees.
How K-12 School Districts Can Protect Against Data Breaches
"Cybersecurity threats are on the rise, and schools need to be prepared," says Chris Close, a cybersecurity expert with Cyber Sleuth Security, a leader in security operations.
When asked how K-12 schools can prevent data breaches, Chris says, "To protect your business from a data breach, I recommend having protection and 24/7 monitoring in place. Prevention is key, and having the right tools and systems in place can help to detect and respond to threats in real-time."
He adds, "It's essential to be proactive in your cybersecurity efforts. Investing in a quality antivirus program and firewall, as well as having a comprehensive backup plan can go a long way in preventing data breaches."
Chris also emphasizes the importance of employee education, saying, "It's important to educate your employees on the importance of security and safe online practices. Make sure they know the signs of a potential data breach and how to respond."