MCPS Superintendent Addresses Hellgate Data Breach – Takes Full Responsibility [WATCH]
MCPS Superintendent Mark Thane faced a small group of reporters and at least one Hellgate High School parent Tuesday afternoon and addressed the data breach that occurred last Friday.
"The breach occurred when an email was sent from the Hellgate administration that was intended to convey notes from a recent parents meeting," Thane said. "The document was, in fact, corrupted and contained an extra 16 pages of personally identifiable information about Hellgate students, and one Hellgate staff member."
Thane said administrators attempted to contain the leak once it was found.
"When the error was discovered Friday evening, there was an immediate attempt to recall the message, and those who received the email were asked to delete the email without opening the attachment," he said. "Saturday morning, phone calls were made to each person on the email list to again encourage them to delete the document. I understand the responsibility that MCPS holds in protecting student data, and we take full responsibility for the error."
Thane went on to say that MCPS has safeguards in place to protect against such data breaches, and will continue to improve its protection of sensitive student data.
Following his prepared statement, Thane was asked if he thought the data release was a deliberate act.
"We don't believe so, but we have begun a thorough investigation and four administrative computers have been sealed as of Saturday morning, and have been turned over for forensic evaluation," Thane said. "there were about 30 parents who attended a football meeting on Tuesday and Thursday nights, and at that point in time, an email list was generated so that the notes from that meeting could be shared with the parents."
Thane had a warning to anyone who may attempt to disseminate the data that was breached.
"It is imperative that anyone in possession of that information cease distribution out of respect for the privacy of students, we need to contain this. Anyone who does so could be facing legal consequences."
Thane also said at the time of the press conference, no parents had contacted the administration threatening any legal action.
"All the parents we've spoken to have been great," Thane said.