Recently, Illuminate Education reported a systems outage that may have exposed the personal information of as many as 820,000 current and former New York City students.
If you received a data breach notification, it is essential you understand what is at risk. The data breach lawyers at Console & Associates, P.C. are actively investigating the Illuminate Education data breach on behalf of people whose information was exposed. As a part of this investigation, we are providing free consultations to anyone affected by the breach who is interested in learning more about the risks of identity theft, what they can do to protect themselves, and what their legal options may be to obtain compensation from Illuminate Education.
Last year, 1,862 data breaches affected more than 189 million people. On average, victims of identity theft spend 200 hours and over $1,300 recovering their identity. Many victims also suffer emotional distress, credit damage, and may even end up with a criminal record. Taking immediate action is the best way to prevent the worst consequences of a data breach.
What We Know So Far About the Illuminate Education Data Breach
According to a recent news report, in January 2022, Illuminate Education experienced a data breach exposing the private information of current and former NYC students. Evidently, the compromised information includes students’ names, birthdays, ethnicities, home languages and student ID numbers dating back to the 2016 – 2017 school year. In addition, the breach allowed unauthorized parties to access information pertaining to whether students get special education services, class and teacher schedules, and whether kids receive free lunch.
New York City officials claim that Illuminated Education inaccurately described the company’s data security measures. The company previously assured officials that all student data was encrypted, when in fact, some data was not encrypted. Officials have asked the NYPD, FBI and New York Attorney General to investigate the cybersecurity event.
The Department of Education explained that it will work with Illuminated Education to send data breach letters to the affected parties in the coming weeks.
Illuminate Education provides education technology used by educators to log and track student performance and other metrics. Illuminated Education consists of several smaller education companies, which merged in 2018, including eduCLIMBER, Key Data Systems, IO Education, School City, Alpine Achievement and FastBridge Learning. Together, all Illuminated Education companies employ more than 600 individuals and generate approximately $126 million in annual revenue. The company is based in Irvine, California.
More About the Causes and Risks of Data Breaches
Often, data breaches are the result of a hacker gaining unauthorized access to a company’s computer systems with the intention of obtaining sensitive consumer information. While no one can know the reason why a hacker targeted Illuminate Education, it is common for hackers and other criminals to identify those companies believed to have weak data security systems or vulnerabilities in their networks.
Once a cybercriminal gains access to a computer network, they can then access and remove any data stored on the compromised servers. While in most cases a company experiencing a data breach can identify which files were accessible, there may be no way for the company to tell which files the hacker actually accessed or whether they removed any data.
While the fact that your information was compromised in a data breach does not necessarily mean it will be used for criminal purposes, being the victim of a data breach puts your sensitive data in the hands of an unauthorized person. As a result, you are at an increased risk of identity theft and other frauds, and criminal use of your information is a possibility that should not be ignored.
Given this reality, individuals who receive an Illuminate Education data breach notification should take the situation seriously and remain vigilant in checking for any signs of unauthorized activity. Businesses like Illuminate Education are responsible for protecting the student data in their possession. If evidence emerges that Illuminate Education failed to adequately protect your sensitive information, you may be eligible for financial compensation through a data breach lawsuit.
What Are Parents’ Remedies in the Wake of the Illuminate Education Data Breach?
When parents trusted Illuminate Education with their children’s personal information, they assumed that the company would take their privacy concerns seriously. And it goes without saying that parents would think twice before giving a company access to their information if they knew it wasn’t going to be secure. Thus, data breaches such as this one raise questions about the adequacy of a company’s data security system.
When a business, government entity, non-profit organization, school, or any other organization accepts and stores consumer data, it also accepts a legal obligation to ensure this information remains private. The United States data breach laws allow consumers to pursue civil data breach claims against organizations that fail to protect their information.
Of course, given the recency of the Illuminate Education data breach, the investigation into the incident is still in its early stages. And, as of right now, there is not yet any evidence suggesting Illuminate Education is legally responsible for the breach. However, that could change as additional information about the breach and its causes is revealed.
If you have questions about your ability to bring a data breach class action lawsuit against Illuminate Education, reach out to a data breach attorney as soon as possible.
What Should You Do if You Receive an Illuminate Education Data Breach Notification?
If Illuminate Education sends you a data breach notification letter, your child is among those whose information was compromised in the recent breach. While this isn’t a time to panic, the situation warrants your attention. Below are a few important steps you can take to protect yourself from identity theft and other fraudulent activity:
Identify What Information Was Compromised: The first thing to do after learning of a data breach is to carefully review the data breach letter sent. The letter will tell you what information of yours was accessible to the unauthorized party. Be sure to make a copy of the letter and keep it for your records. If you have trouble understanding the letter or what steps you can take to protect yourself, a data breach lawyer can help.
Limit Future Access to Your Accounts: Once you determine what information of yours was affected by the breach, the safest play is to assume that the hacker orchestrating the attack stole your data. While this may not be the case, it’s better to be safe than sorry. To prevent future access to your accounts, you should change all passwords and security questions for any online account. This includes online banking accounts, credit card accounts, online shopping accounts, and any other account containing your personal information. You should also consider changing your social media account passwords and setting up multi-factor authentication where it is available.
Protect Your Credit and Your Financial Accounts: After a data breach, companies often provide affected parties with free credit monitoring services. Signing up for the free credit monitoring offers some significant protections and doesn’t impact any of your rights to pursue a data breach lawsuit against the company if it turns out they were legally responsible for the breach. You should contact a credit bureau to request a copy of your credit report—even if you do not notice any signs of fraud or unauthorized activity. Adding a fraud alert to your account will provide you with additional protection.
Consider Implementing a Credit Freeze: A credit freeze prevents anyone from accessing your credit report. Credit freezes are free and stay in effect until you remove them. Once a credit freeze is in place, you can temporarily lift the freeze if you need to apply for any type of credit. While placing a credit freeze on your accounts may seem like overkill, given the risks involved, it’s justified. According to the Identity Theft Resource Center (“ITRC”), placing a credit freeze on your account is the “single most effective way to prevent a new credit/financial account from being opened.” However, just 3% of data breach victims place a freeze on their accounts.
Regularly Monitor Your Credit Report and Financial Accounts: Protecting yourself or your child in the wake of a data breach requires an ongoing effort on your part. You should regularly check your credit report and all financial account statements, looking for any signs of unauthorized activity or fraud. You should also call your banks and credit card companies to report the fact that your information was compromised in a data breach.