Ca: Halton school board alerts parents after employee’s laptop with student data stolen

Kristin Rushowy reports:

A laptop containing thousands of Halton students’ names, numbers and birthdates — even their standardized test scores — has been stolen, prompting the board to warn all parents of a possible privacy breach.

“While we don’t believe data contained on the laptop to be damaging or harmful to student safety, we wanted to alert you of the issue,” education director David Euale said in an email sent last Friday, adding the laptop was stolen from an employee between Jan. 23 and 27.

“The electronic files that may have been compromised due to the theft of the laptop contained student names, student Ontario Education Numbers, birthdates, and data relating to the EQAO testing results for schools within Halton.”

The Halton District School Board has about 54,400 students. The laptop contains information on all students who have written a provincial EQAO test over the past five years, meaning anyone from grades 4 to 12.

Read more in the Toronto Star.

From the reporting, it sounds like tens of thousands of students may be affected – assuming, of course, that the only data on the laptop was current data and not data going back another umpty-ump years.

Hopefully, the board will disclose more about whether the data were encrypted at the time of the theft and why an employee would need to take such data home or off-premises.

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