Department of Higher Education, Colorado Reports a Significant Data Breach

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Department of Higher Education, Colorado Reports a Significant Data Breach

According to the sources, higher education students of the batch between 2007-2020 and high school students between the batch 2004-2020 have been impacted by the recent data breach.

Various students, past students, and teachers have been impacted by a significant data breach that took place after a ransomware attack in June as disclosed by the Department of Higher Education, Colorado.

CDHE came to know about the ransomware attack impacted its network system on June 19, 2023.

The investigation is still going on, but CDHE says that unauthorized people accessed its system between June 11 to June 19.

Now the CDHE has taken respected steps to secure the network by collaborating with third-party specialists. The department is investigating criminals and working on restoring the condition back to its normal state.

While breaching the sensitive information from the computer of the user, attackers usually spread through the whole network to breach the data.

Upon successfully pilfering data and securing access to an administrator account within the network, threat actors proceed to deploy ransomware, effectively encrypting computers across the network. Subsequently, the purloined data becomes a weapon in double-extortion maneuvers, as these actors coerce victims by threatening to expose the data publicly unless a ransom is remitted.

As per the CDHE, this strategy was employed within their network, and their scrutiny unveiled that the malicious entities gained entry to their systems from June 11th to June 19th. Throughout this duration, the threat actors managed to pilfer data spanning a thirteen-year period, encompassing the years 2004 to 2020, from the Department’s systems. 

Investigation revealed that certain records were accessed by the unauthorized person, containing details about education records, social security numbers, and student identification numbers.

Here is the list of people that might have impacted due to the recent data breach

  • Higher education student at a public institution in Colorado between 2007-2020
  • High school student at a public school in Colorado between 2004-2020
  • Individuals holding a K-12 public educator license between 2010-2014
  • Individuals who have participated in a Dependent Tuition Assistance Program from 2009-2013
  • Obtained a GED between 2007-2011

The breached data comprises complete Social Security numbers, residential addresses, evidence of addresses in the form of statements or bills, names, duplicates of government-issued IDs, and, for a subset, birthdates, police reports, or grievances related to identity theft.

The CDHE has not disclosed the exact count of affected individuals; however, considering the breach spans from 2004 to 2020, it likely encompasses a substantial number of people. Given the sensitive nature of the exposed data, the CDHE is offering free identity theft monitoring for a 24-month duration to those impacted.

While no ransomware group has openly claimed responsibility for the breach, individuals impacted should operate on the assumption that their compromised data will be exploited maliciously. It’s crucial to remain vigilant against potential identity theft and phishing attacks. Even if the CDHE were to comply with data deletion demands, certain threat actors might not uphold their commitments and could exploit the data for subsequent attacks.

In light of this, exercise caution when dealing with phishing emails that aim to extract additional information such as passwords, account numbers, or financial particulars.

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