Montgomery County Public Schools forces password reset after Naviance hacked

Update:  It was a Maryland student who did it.

Brad Shear forwarded a notice he received yesterday concerning a breach impacting students of the Montgomery County Public School District. The cover email, from Luana Zimmerman of college career service Naviance began:

Due to a recent data security incident in Naviance that affected one of our high schools, MCPS is requiring all MCPS students who use Naviance (6th –12th grade) to reset their password. MCPS is resetting Naviance passwords for all MCPS students to ensure that student information stays safe, in an abundance of caution. The attachment can assist in resetting passwords. As of 4:30pm, today, October 14, any student attempting to log into Naviance, whether at home or at school, will be prompted to change their password.

Naviance’s notice, below, explains that on October 3, it suffered a brute force attack that impacted 1,343 Naviance student accounts and one parent/guardian account at Wheaton High School.

The brute force attack occurred over a two-hour period in the evening, and “The unauthorized user attempted many username and password combinations,eventually gaining access to 1,344 accounts.”

Naviance does not explain why a brute force attack didn’t trigger a lockout or other defensive measures. Why was the attacker allowed to keep automatically trying combinations and then able to download information from more than 1,000 accounts without alarms going off and defenses kicking in?

As Doug Levin noted on Twitter, this was not the district’s first breach. Of note, it was not their first third-party breach, either, as this site has reported another one in the past.

The types of information potentially acquired by the attacker included Name, Date of Birth, Highest ACT Score, Ethnicity, Grade Level, Highest IB Score, Gender, Student ID #, Student Address, GPA, Weighted GPA, Home Phone #, Email Address, Highest SAT Score, Mobile Phone #, Assigned Counselor, Highest PSAT Score, and Nickname.

Data Breach Notification - Naviance_MERGED

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