Dallas Independent School District reveals breach, but details are still missing

As seen on their web site:

Information on Dallas ISD data security incident

The Dallas Independent School District recently received notice of a data security incident involving the district’s electronic records that may affect former and current students, alumni, parents, and district employees.

The confidentiality, privacy, and security of information in our care is one our highest priorities.  We take this matter very seriously and have invested significant resources to protect sensitive data. Despite our efforts, the district is now one of a growing number of public and private organizations experiencing cyberattacks.

Federal law enforcement authorities have been contacted. At this time, it appears the affected information has been contained and that none of it has been shared or sold. However, we cannot be 100 percent certain until additional forensic analysis is completed.

The district’s IT team, assisted by forensic consultants, has addressed specific vulnerabilities that were exploited during this event and will continue efforts to augment security going forward.

We regret any inconvenience this incident may have caused and believe it is our responsibility to inform the public that we are taking steps to notify individuals whose records have been impacted.

We are committed to transparency and will continue to share updates with you, as they are available. Please check back on this website for the latest information.

Last Updated 9/2/2021

An FAQ on their site that accompanies the statement provides a bit more detail, but still leaves the situation unclear.  Texas school districts have been frequent targets of ransomware threat actors (in fact, the whole k-12 sector has been frequently attacked).  The district reports that it became aware of an incident on August 8.  According to their FAQ,

An unauthorized third party accessed our network, downloaded data, and temporarily stored it on an encrypted cloud storage site. The data have since been removed from the site. To date, our cybersecurity experts have found no evidence indicating the data was otherwise accessed, disseminated, or sold. However, we cannot be 100% sure until our ongoing investigation is complete.

And therein lies much of the confusion.  Was this a ransomware attack? Were any files encrypted? Was any ransom demand or extortion demand made?  How did the data get removed from the site? By the host or by whoever uploaded it?

The incident reportedly potentially affects anyone who was a student, contractor, or employee between 2010 and the present.  The data types involved were described as:

  1. For some current and former employees/contractors: first and last name, address, phone number, social security number, date of birth, dates of employment, salary information, and reason for ending employment
  2. For some current and former students: first and last name, social security number, date of birth, parent/guardian contact information, and grades. For a subset of students, custody status and/or medical condition was also exposed.

This incident has not appeared on any of the leak sites maintained by dozens of threat actors, forums, or markets, but that does not mean that it will never show up and the district and others will continue monitoring to be on the lookout for any of the district’s data.

DataBreaches.net submitted an inquiry through the district’s web site last night seeking clarification as to the nature of the breach and will update this post if a response is received.

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