Parents worried about data breach at RPS, still waiting for answers from school officials

(ABC 6 News) – Students attending Rochester Public Schools received an extra day of spring break Monday, due to unusual activity detected on its technology network on Thursday.

Five days later, the district is still dealing with it.

Parents with children in the RPS district say without a lot of information from school officials about the data breach, they do not know how worried they should be.

Given recent cyber and ransom attacks like at Minneapolis Public Schools last month, Rochester moms say that the thought of their child’s data in someone else’s hands is a scary thought.

Here is an email that was sent out to parents from RPS officials Monday night:

The email says that, “third-party experts have confirmed that an outside actor has gained access to some school district data. Please know, as of now, we have no evidence that any data associated with this event has been used for financial fraud or identity theft.”

However, it also states that school leaders will, “be in contact with affected individuals whose data was accessed as soon as we are able.”

Any updated information will be posted on the districts website.

Rochester parents have been told to send their children with notebooks and pencils on Tuesday, according to one mom.

What would have been that long, first day back to school after the break, was instead a day at the park for RPS students.

Plus, a headache for Mom and Dad.

“School being canceled was a disaster for me I work and so my first thought was, ‘what am I gonna do to entertain the kids,” explained mom of two, Sam LeVan.

This situation stemmed after technology staff at RPS detected “unusual activity on its technology network,” according to a press release from the district.

“In response, and out of an abundance of caution, we shut down our network and almost all of our core technology systems,” explained RPS Supt. Kent Pekel in a video posted to Twitter. “Our technical staff have since been working non-stop with third-party experts to investigate and address this situation.”

Monday, teachers spent the day preparing to teach without internet access.

Penny LeVan, a 7th grader at Dakota Middle School, says that she is interested to see how tomorrow plays out.

“I’m kind of nervous for tomorrow cause we rely heavily on technology at Dakota,” she said.

Kids took the news well, cheering at the extra day of break.

But moms like LeVan say that they are worried about what this data breach really means.

“My biggest fear is personal data getting out there and going on the dark web. There’s lots of data that’s stored in schools, we share health information, we share information about, IEPs and 504 plans and that’s not stuff I want my kids to feel unsafe about,” LeVan added.

MN IT services professionals say that data attacks on schools aren’t anything new.

“That’s where data is and that’s the focus of all of these attacks. They’re looking for impact, they’re looking for money, looking for data, how can you monetize and make money off of these events,” explained John Isreal, the Interim Chief Information Security Officer with MNIT.

Other Rochester parents are waiting for the district to reveal just how dangerous this threat is.

“It’s cyber attacks so who knows obviously there’s going to be worried but I can’t state them specifically right now your kid’s information is out there but all of our information is out there, that’s kinda the world we live in.”