Duluth student alerted school district about security breach

Updated: June 04, 2020 10:23 PM

Duluth schools sent out a new update Thursday morning about the cyber security breach. They said it was a student who noticed a problem, and reported an unauthorized attempt to sign into their ISD 709 account.

The technology staff said they identified 14 student accounts being accessed by outside IP accounts. They temporarily disabled all accounts and worked to address the breach.

Student accounts were expected to be active by noon on Thursday with students in grades K-5 and 9-12 using their existing passwords and students in 6-8th grades receiving information about how to log-in to their account.

The district also said, "We have not seen any suspicious activity from the compromised student accounts but we will continue to monitor and investigate."

Lake Superior College cybersecurity instructor Matthew McCullough wasn't part of the response, but he says those who were set a good example.

"Great on the student for reporting it and great on the IT department for acting on that report," McCullough said.

Given tension sparked by George Floyd's death, McCullough said all Minnesotans should be on alert for what he calls hack-tivists.

 "What's going on in the news in a global sense, being that the epicenter so to speak is in Minneapolis," McCullough said, "It's not that surprising to me that we're seeing this happen in our area."

This is why McCullough says now is the time to stress the importance of basic cyber hygiene practices like strong passwords and multi factor authentication. He said, "So that's the, 'Hey, I put in my password, now I get a text message, and now I put in the pin from that text message,' just so it makes it harder for those people to break into your accounts.”

McCullough also recommends regularly referring to free resources that allow you to check whether your email account has been compromised in a data breach.

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