Wickenburg Unified School District struggles to secure sensitive student data

Pat Kossan reports that data security in the Wickenburg Unified School District was found seriously lacking in a state audit:

Wickenburg Unified School District has not secured its computer system containing sensitive student data, including student addresses, birth dates and Social Security numbers, state auditors found.

Staffers from the Arizona Office of the Auditor General originally went to Wickenburg to determine why its 2008 administrative costs were 10 percent higher than similar districts.

But the most unnerving part of their report, released last Friday, has less to do with the district’s money problems and more to do with potential problems with student privacy. Among the issues auditors noted:

  • The district’s network was accessible to unauthorized users, putting the data in jeopardy of being stolen, changed or deleted.
  • Employees who didn’t need access had it anyway, including a custodian and a groundskeeper.
  • Backup servers with student data were kept in an unlocked room with an unlocked window.

Read more in the Arizona Republic.

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