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More than 19,000 records released in B.C. school district data breach

After 19,126 records were released by a school district in Maple Ridge, B.C., staff warn of potential phishing scams.
The school district says it's taking steps to ensure a similar incident doesn't happen again.

A school district in B.C. said more than 19,000 personal records from students and staff were accessed in a privacy breach.

In a statement Wednesday, School District 42 — which encompasses Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows — said 19,126 records were publicly released in a breach that was first noticed in the afternoon of Jan. 17, 2023. The documents appear to have been uploaded to a popular hacker forum on Jan. 15. The records include first and last names, schools and departments, email addresses and students’ grade.

“Our investigation showed no evidence of suspicious activity or unauthorized users,” said school district spokesperson Irena Pochop when asked about the privacy breach.

Pochop added it's possible the information was accessed through a compromised email account.

In its statement, the school district said it has no evidence “critical information” was disclosed. At the same time, the released data is thought to include staff and student information, and in the wrong hands, could be used for targeted phishing attacks, the school board said.

“While it is possible this information was obtained because of a compromised student or staff email account, our investigation into how this data was accessed is ongoing,” staff said.

In a letter to parents, Superintendent of Schools Harry Dhillon said the district will inform the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner for B.C.  about the disclosure and take steps to prevent a similar incident from occurring again.