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Thursday, Mar 26, 2015

Personal info of thousands leaked online for 2 weeks

Hernando Today staff report

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TALLAHASSEE - Due to failed security measures, the personal information of about 47,000 participants in Florida teacher preparation programs was available online for a period of two weeks, according to Florida Department of Education.

The personal information became compromised during a data transfer between servers in late May that were housed at Florida State University's Florida Center for Interactive Media, which was performing the contract work for FDOE but failed to enact security measures to restrict access to only authorized individuals.

"The university takes the protection of personal information very seriously," said FSU Vice President for University Relations Liz Maryanski.

Program participants specifically affected are those registered during academic years 2009-10 through 2011-12, which an investigation shows had personal information that had been accessed 23 times from Google, according to the DOE.

Whether or not the viewer or viewers were authorized to do so is unclear.

"This is unacceptable," said Florida Education Commissioner Tony Bennett. "I have ordered a top to bottom review of the security of every database and our staff is expediting the transfer of all confidential information into servers directly monitored and secured by the department."

According to Bennett, the DOE was made aware of the security failure June 11 and worked with university officials to close the access, clear all cached data files and run security checks to ensure the information was only accessible by authorized users. The incident remains under investigation.

Maryanski said FSU and the DOE are working to notify those whose personal information may have been left susceptible to identity theft. The cost of ID protection will be provided by the DOE for those affected.

Florida teacher preparation programs include Initial Teacher Preparation programs, or ITP; District Alternative Certification Programs, or DACP; and Educator Preparation Institutes, or EPI, according to the Florida Center for Interactive Media.

According to a report released by the center, which contained the 2009 demographics of those who completed Florida teacher preparation programs, the ITP program was 87 percent women and 13 percent men, the DACP program was 71 percent women and 29 percent men and the EPI program was 74.3 percent women and 25.7 percent men.

The ages for the ITP program were 65.4 percent aged 20-29, 20.1 percent aged 30-39, 10.1 percent aged 40-49 and 4 percent aged 50-59. The ages for the DACP program were 35 percent aged 20-29, 33.9 percent aged 30-39, 19.4 percent aged 40-49 and 9.5 percent aged 50-59. The ages for the EPI program were 23.2 percent aged 20-29, 30.2 percent aged 30-39, 27.8 percent aged 40-49 and 16.3 percent aged 50-59.

Program participants who suspect their Social Security number or other personal information may have been misused are asked to contact the Florida Trade Commission at or by calling 1-877-ID-THEFT or file a police report with the Hernando County Sheriff's Office.

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