In June, 2015, Algonquin College in Ottawa disclosed that 1,225 students in the Bachelor of Information Technology and Bachelor of Science in Nursing programs had their personal information on a server that had been accessed. The server compromise occurred in December, 2014, but the college was initially unable to determine exactly what happened.
Now a Toronto law firm is considering launching a $100 million lawsuit against the college over a second breach, disclosed earlier this year. CFRA reports that test results of more than 1,400 prospective health program students were sent out to 40 prospective students in a mass email.
That strikes me as a lot of money for exposing names, email addresses, student numbers, program choices and test scores of the students.
Was Algonquin ever sued over the earlier breach that involved name, date of birth, social insurance number, student number, email and mailing address, visa status and citizenship, as well as academic history? I could be wrong, but it seems to me that while the second breach might be embarrassing, the first breach really could have caused significantly more problems for those impacted.
But if you think the second breach is worth suing over, what do you think about a third breach DataBreaches.net just discovered that was disclosed only a few weeks ago? This third breach involved a stolen hard drive containing names and grades of 474 past and current students in the Geographic Information Systems (GIS) program. The unencrypted drive was reportedly stolen from an Algonquin College professor’s car on April 8, 2016.
According to the college’s notice of the breach, a subset of the students who undertook GIS course 1003 – 43 students in total – also had their phone numbers, personal and college email addresses, and student numbers compromised. For some reason that it is not obvious to me, the college is offering all affected students identity theft protection, even though no date of birth or Social Insurance Numbers were involved.
One hack, one exposure/email error, and one theft. Algonquin’s incident response team is certainly getting practice responding to different types of breaches.