Hackers may have accessed thousands of SC students' information - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina

Hackers may have accessed thousands of SC students' information

LANCASTER, SC (WBTV) - The identity of thousands of students and teachers has potentially been compromised after officials with the Lancaster County School District say a hacker was able to access their system.

According to school officials, the hackers were able to hack into the district's system by monitoring district computers and capturing keystrokes to get passwords. Those passwords gave the hackers access into the records on the state system of more than 25,000 students and more than 2,500 school district employees.

While it's still not clear exactly what information the hackers were able to access, the database houses information on current and former students and employees including names, birth dates, social security numbers, addresses and phone numbers.

School officials say the hacking occurred in March and were discovered by the U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team, which notified the S.C. Information Sharing & Analysis Center who notified the school district of the incidents last week.

No credit card or bank account information appears to have been compromised, school officials say.

The district notified SLED and other appropriate law enforcement agencies once they were alerted that personal student and employee information could have been downloaded. WBTV has learned that the computers that were compromised were immediately taken off-line and the breach was secured.

WEB EXTRA: Notification letter sent to students, employees

"We deeply regret the hacking and that the security breach occurred, and we sincerely regret any inconvenience the breach may cause," superintendent Gene Moore said. "We are doing everything we can to prevent this from happening again, and we have put new measures in place to better assure that our computers are protected from such attempts."

According to the school district, the hackers used a sophisticated system to capture keystrokes from district computers and determine district passwords for the state systems that store the district's student and employee information.

The school district's Computer Security Task Force is working to put in place safeguards against hacking attempts. The Information Technology Department is continually upgrading the districts' computer system with the most current anitvirus software available.  They are monitoring the development of new viruses and provide the protection for the district as soon as new viruses are detected.

School officials say there is no evidence to indicate that any confidential information has been used illegally. The attack appears to be a random crime, officials say, and they have no reason to believe any specific person was targeted.

"The hacking was an intentional and [criminal] action to obtain protected information," a school official said.

The district is assisting in efforts to identify and apprehend the person or people responsible for the hacking and Dr. Moore says the school district is reviewing all its computer security procedures.

All affected employees and students affected by this incident will be notified in writing, and the district will make its best effort to notify former employees and students, Moore said.

The school district will provide instructions to students, parents and employees on how to protect themselves from identity theft on the district's website and by mail.

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