Downingtown Area School District investigating data breach; multiple students being questioned

Saturday, October 19, 2019
Downingtown Area School District investigating data breach
Downingtown Area School District investigating data breach. George Solis has more on Action News at 10 p.m. on October 18, 2019.

DOWNINGTOWN, Pennsylvania (WPVI) -- Officials at the Downingtown Area School District are investigating a hack involving teacher-student software used at the high school. Officials say was carried out by students claiming it was all done for a game.

The school district says they became aware of the potential hack on October 11 involving their Naviance accounts. Naviance is a college and career resource website that assists students in aligning their strengths and interests to their post-secondary goals.

Hackers were able to obtain student profile information from the entire DASD's student population, officials say.

"We believe they collected student IDs, student directory information, gender, ethnicity, GPA and SAT scores, and household and non-household relationship information," says the school. "No information was altered or manipulated in any way."

No social security numbers were obtained and no credit card information was compromised.

The school says they became aware of the hack after a "Top 50 GPA" list began circulating.

As for this game, parents described it as essentially a high-stake game of tag played off school grounds with water guns known as "assassin" usually involving a cash payout to the winner.

"I trust that they didn't get any vital information," said parent Sherry Gerrity who praised the district for quickly getting the information out to parents.

Other parents are left wondering how the students were able to breach the information.

"I'm very surprised it was that easy for a couple of kids to hack into the system," said parent Rory Scmidt.

Multiple students are being questioned at this time.

"We understand that this information is deeply disturbing. The highest priority is our students - their safety, their education and supporting their needs. DASD takes the responsibility to gather and store student and family information seriously. Modifications have and will continue to be made to our internal practices and the district plans to conduct internal training beyond the normal, ongoing training," said Superintendent Emilie Lonardi in a statement.