The Ministry of Education has informed education partners and school districts, including School District 27 of a potential data breach.
“An unencrypted external hard drive which contains student data cannot be found,” said SD 27 Mark Thiessen in announcing the situation Wednesday. “Ministry staff are continuing their efforts to locate the missing hard drive.”
Meanwhile, he said as the protection of personal information and privacy is of utmost importance and a top priority of school districts and the provincial government, out of an abundance of caution, the provincial government issued a public notification Tuesday of this potential data breach.
For more information the press release is available on the School District 27 website.
Education ministry staff have searched in vain since this summer to locate a backup hard drive containing B.C. and Yukon student information from 1986 to 2009, reported Tom Fletcher earlier this week.
The computer memory disk contains 3.4 million education records, including names, postal codes, grades and personal education numbers. The drive also has more than 9,000 personal education numbers for children in government care, connected to information such as health and behaviour issues.
Citizens’ Services Minister Amrik Virk said Tuesday there is no evidence the information has been taken or misused.
After a lengthy physical search of a secure warehouse in Victoria turned up nothing, ministry electronic records continue to be searched to see if the hard drive was destroyed.
Virk said there were two unencrypted backup hard drives created in 2011, contrary to ministry information and privacy rules.
Information and Privacy Commissioner Elizabeth Denham has been notified and is investigating.
This sensitive information could be connected to names by comparing the personal education numbers to names through the larger data file. Details on the data on the missing hard drive are online at http://www.cio.gov.bc.ca/local/cio/priv_leg/documents/reports/Education_Data_Breach.pdf.
A contact centre has been set up through Service BC for specific enquiries. Callers should be able to note when they attended K-12 or post-secondary school in B.C. The contact centre is open Monday to Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. and can be reached by calling: Victoria: 250-387-6121, Vancouver: 604-660-2421. Elsewhere in B.C.: 1-800 663-7867.