Saturday, September 04, 2004

Break-in at BC school board leaks sensitive personal information

An August 23, 2004 break-in at a British Columbia school board's offices resulted in the theft of sensitive payroll information about board employees and students, including info about medical conditions. See the full story at the Tri-City News:

Hundreds of calls in wake of SD43 break-in:

"The investigation into a theft that compromised the financial integrity of thousands of school board employees is 'extremely active,' said Coquitlam RCMP spokesperson Cpl. Jane Baptista.

'Hopefully in the next while, I will have more information,' she said. 'At this time, I'm not at liberty to speak anymore about it as I do not wish to compromise the integrity of the investigation.'

Since a break-in at the school board office Aug. 23, staff have sent emails and letters trying to reach 13,400 employees and former employees to warn them crooks may get access to their bank accounts because confidential data was stolen.

Cheryl Quinton, the school district's communications manager, estimates she has fielded more than 100 emails and phone calls a day since employees were notified of potential identity theft. 'Because its an area that needs some time with each caller, it's seldom a quick answer, so it's taking time,' she said.

The impact of the theft of computers and other equipment has forced the district to review not only its security - already beefed up - but how it handles records and information, Quinton said. Some former employees received more than one copy of the same letter (see Letters, page 11) because of payroll designations. If employees switch divisions, such as from teacher on-call to permanent, or from CUPE to excluded staff, a separate payroll record remains.

Also compromised by the theft was personal information, including medical alerts and course information for as many as 100,000 students but, Quinton said, she has had very few calls from parents. Still, there are concerns. ..."

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