Five Missouri school districts are being audited to see how they protect their students’ personal information. State Auditor Nicole Galloway’s office will conduct the audits and expect to wrap up its work next year. Boonville, Cape Girardeau, Orchard Farm, Park Hill and Waynesville school districts will be audited.
Galloway said she wanted to review districts with different population sizes and locations and that’s what led her to choose these districts. She will announce in 2016 additional Missouri schools that will also be audited.
“They (schools) have a responsibility to proactively protect that student information from hackers and from those that might seek to exploit or profit from it,” said Galloway. “Schools have a lot of information on students. If you think about it, health records, social security numbers, addresses, birth dates, maybe even debit card information so children can charge lunch.”
She said there are serious consequences when a data breach occurs.
“There is an IBM and Ponemon Institute study that was just released this year. The average cost of a cyber breach incident is $6.5 million to that entity,” said Galloway.
Galloway said she’ll work with the Department of Education and educational associations. She plans to give suggestions and hold them accountable to make sure personal data is safe.
According to the nonprofit Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, in the past 10 years, more than 250 K through12 schools nationwide experienced a data breach. Three of those were in Missouri within the past year or so.
A network was compromised at a Fulton school. Belton Middle School had an unauthorized access to an iPad that led to cyber bullying. More than 10,000 students and employees had their personal information compromised at Park Hill school district.