Privacy & Security

K12 Inc. Data Breach Opens Doors to Students’ Personal Information

By Alyson Klein — July 10, 2019 2 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

A K12 Inc. company database that included information for 19,000 students was available for anyone with an internet connection to see for at least a week, according to a report from Comparitech, which describes itself as a pro-consumer organization that offers security services.

It’s not clear that anyone with ill intentions accessed the information during the data exposure, which lasted from June 23 until July 1.

The data came from the for-profit virtual education provider’s A+nyWhere Learning System, a software package used by more than 500 school districts, according to K-12 Inc. Students’ names, genders, birthdates, school names, and more were visible. In all, there were over 7 million records available.

So is this potential data breach as a big a deal as, say, an intentional hacking of student social security numbers? Not really, says the Comparitech report. But parents and students who may have been affected still need to exercise caution.

Students may be vulnerable to phishing attempts (where a bad actor sends an email trying to get personal information) and other forms of fraud. And they warned of potential increases in spam, since email addresses were made public.

K-12 is working to “proactively” notify families who may have been affected, a spokesman said. “Student privacy is vitally important to us at K12. Our security team promptly addressed the issue, and the data is now secure, with technical and process improvements to our software hosting migration to help prevent this situation from occurring again,” K-12 said in a statement. “We are also going above and beyond what is legally required, and proactively contacting all partner districts with connections to these students.

The company underscored that the information didn’t include health or social security data. “We have no reason to believe anyone, other than the researchers who brought this to our attention, improperly accessed this information,” he said.

K-12 Inc. has long been a flash-point in the debate over the role of for-profit companies in education. The company and its supporters contend that it fills a key, often unmet need by providing flexible and customized online services to students who struggle or otherwise aren’t comfortable in brick-and-mortar schools.

K12’s detractors note its students’ lackluster showing on state tests, and point to complaints about its business practices as reasons to be skeptical of the company and its role.

Image: Getty

Related Tags:

A version of this news article first appeared in the Digital Education blog.

Commenting has been disabled on effective Sept. 8. Please visit our FAQ section for more details. To get in touch with us visit our contact page, follow us on social media, or submit a Letter to the Editor.


This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Teaching Webinar
6 Key Trends in Teaching and Learning
As we enter the third school year affected by the pandemic—and a return to the classroom for many—we come better prepared, but questions remain. How will the last year impact teaching and learning this school
Content provided by Instructure
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Curriculum Webinar
How Data and Digital Curriculum Can Drive Personalized Instruction
As we return from an abnormal year, it’s an educator’s top priority to make sure the lessons learned under adversity positively impact students during the new school year. Digital curriculum has emerged from the pandemic
Content provided by Kiddom
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Equity & Diversity Webinar
Leadership for Racial Equity in Schools and Beyond
While the COVID-19 pandemic continues to reveal systemic racial disparities in educational opportunity, there are revelations to which we can and must respond. Through conscientious efforts, using an intentional focus on race, school leaders can
Content provided by Corwin

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Privacy & Security Spotlight Spotlight on Lessons Learned: Digital Safety
In this Spotlight, review ways you should be approaching student and system data, discover how others teach digital safety, and more.
Privacy & Security Quiz Quiz: How Much Do You Know About Protecting Students During Remote Learning?
Quiz Yourself: What should you know about storing video content involving students?
Privacy & Security Spotlight Spotlight: Online Student Safety
In this Spotlight, assess possible digital vulnerabilities, learn how students may be partaking in digital self-harm, and more.
Privacy & Security Hackers Post 26,000 Broward School Files Online After District Doesn't Pay Ransom
Hackers who demanded up to $40 million from the Broward School District have now published nearly 26,000 files stolen from district servers.
Scott Travis, South Florida Sun-Sentinel
3 min read
Image shows a glowing futuristic background with lock on digital integrated circuit.
iStock/Getty Images Plus