TALLAHASEE, Fla. - Personal information of roughly 47,000 teacher preparation program participants in the state was compromised for 14 days in late May, according to a statement Saturday by the Florida Department of Education.
The information was publicly accessible on the Internet during the security lapse period when Florida State University's Florida Center for Interactive Media in Tallahassee moved the data to a new server, but failed to enact security measures to restrict access to only authorized individuals, education officials said.
The department was "made aware of the failure to properly secure the data on June 11 and immediately 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," according to officials.
An initial investigation determined the open information was accessed 23 times using Google.
Though officials don't believe any data has been used "inappropriately," they are reaching out to any individuals whose data may have been breached.
"I have ordered a top-to-bottom review of the security of every database," Florida Commissioner of Education Tony Bennett said, "and our staff is expediting the transfer of all confidential information into servers directly monitored and secured by the department."
What To Do, Per DOE:
The department will have staff available Monday to assist anyone who may have been impacted. That number is 866-507-1109 and will be in operation Monday afternoon. The cost of ID protection will be provided for those affected.
While the incident is being investigated, program participants who suspect their Social Security number or other personal information may have been misused or that they may be the victim of identity theft should contact the Federal Trade Commission at www.ftc.gov/idtheft or call 1-888-438-4338.
Affected persons may also call their local sheriff's office and file a police report of identity theft, keeping a copy of the police report.
"To protect themselves from the possibility of identity theft, individuals are encouraged to place a free fraud alert on their credit files.
A fraud alert notifies creditors to contact individuals before opening new accounts in their name.
Call any one of the three major credit reporting agencies at the numbers below to place a fraud alert and receive letters from the agencies with instructions on how to receive a free copy of their credit report:
- Experian - 1-888-397-3742
- Equifax - 1-888-766-0008
- TransUnion - 1-800-680-7289