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MDE: Tupelo schools among those affected by Questar Assessment breach

The Mississippi Education Department’s (MDE) assessment vendor, Questar Assessment, Inc., reported today that 663 students in the Tupelo and Jefferson County school districts were affected by the data breach the company discovered last week.

Posted: Jan 22, 2018 5:08 PM

JACKSON, Miss (Press Release) – The Mississippi Education Department’s (MDE) assessment vendor, Questar Assessment, Inc., reported today that 663 students in the Tupelo and Jefferson County school districts were affected by the data breach the company discovered last week. This represents a fraction (0.26%) of the to 258,501 computer-based test takers in spring and fall 2017. Questar had originally reported the breach related to tests administered in 2016.

Questar’s preliminary analysis found that an unauthorized user viewed student assessment records between December 31, 2017, and January 1, 2018, from Tupelo Middle School, Tupelo High School and Jefferson Junior High School. The unauthorized viewer gained access to student names, Mississippi student identification numbers, grade levels, teacher names and test results. One student record viewed contained demographic data.

Dr. Carey Wright, state superintendent of education, spoke personally to Questar President Steve Lazer to demand that Questar take immediate action to ensure no further data breaches occur. Lazer assured Wright that Questar is acting swiftly to ensure Mississippi’s data remains safe and secure.

“The MDE takes very seriously the confidentiality of student information, and any breach of our records will not be tolerated,” Wright said. “Even though this incident is isolated to a fraction of students, any type of breach is unacceptable, and we are holding Questar accountable to ensure this never happens again.”

Following the discovery of a similar breach in New York, Questar has closed the accounts of all former employees and has hired a third-party audit firm to perform a security audit of its systems.  

The MDE is requiring Questar take immediate action including:

  • Use a third-party audit firm to conduct a security audit of Questar’s systems and security protocols, policies and procedures;
  • Submit a written corrective action plan to the MDE by January 29, 2018, detailing the actions Questar has taken and will take to ensure that this does not occur again in the future. 
  • Force password resets;

The MDE does not share student addresses and social security numbers with Questar; and therefore, this information was not accessible.

Questar first notified the MDE about the breach on the afternoon of January 18, 2018. On January 19, 2018, Questar provided additional information, and earlier today, Questar provided the MDE with the names of the affected students and schools.

The MDE has notified the superintendents of the affected districts and will issue a letter to every student who was affected. The breakdown of schools and students affected is as follows:

School

District

# of Students Affected

Tupelo Middle School

Tupelo School District

490

Tupelo High School

Tupelo School District

72

Jefferson County Junior High School

Jefferson County School District

101

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 501097

Reported Deaths: 9990
CountyCasesDeaths
Harrison34338538
DeSoto32117403
Hinds31939628
Jackson24494382
Rankin21995390
Lee15543235
Madison14581280
Jones13851242
Forrest13453251
Lauderdale11991317
Lowndes11050188
Lamar10521135
Pearl River9533237
Lafayette8550140
Hancock7732127
Washington7438158
Oktibbeha7146131
Monroe6777177
Warren6694176
Pontotoc6664102
Neshoba6637206
Panola6531131
Marshall6467134
Bolivar6317148
Union602894
Pike5820152
Alcorn5669101
Lincoln5436135
George496879
Scott472898
Tippah469281
Prentiss467281
Leflore4658144
Itawamba4636105
Tate4588111
Adams4587119
Copiah448592
Simpson4446116
Yazoo444187
Wayne439772
Covington428894
Sunflower4239105
Marion4226108
Coahoma4160105
Leake408288
Newton381779
Grenada3707108
Stone360364
Tishomingo359792
Attala331589
Jasper329965
Winston314291
Clay308076
Chickasaw300367
Clarke292494
Calhoun279446
Holmes267987
Smith264050
Yalobusha234047
Tallahatchie228051
Greene219348
Walthall218763
Lawrence212940
Perry205556
Amite205156
Webster202946
Noxubee186740
Montgomery179656
Jefferson Davis171743
Carroll169138
Tunica159839
Benton148838
Kemper141941
Choctaw133426
Claiborne132737
Humphreys129538
Franklin120228
Quitman106428
Wilkinson105139
Jefferson94534
Sharkey64120
Issaquena1937
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 820011

Reported Deaths: 15407
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson1148361924
Mobile726091339
Madison52337697
Shelby37622350
Baldwin37258552
Tuscaloosa35117612
Montgomery34116740
Lee23536246
Calhoun22232488
Morgan20952378
Etowah19834500
Marshall18372304
Houston17390412
St. Clair16064339
Cullman15454293
Limestone15349199
Elmore15264286
Lauderdale14314295
Talladega13842283
DeKalb12662261
Walker11206370
Blount10197176
Autauga10047148
Jackson9874184
Coffee9211191
Dale8900185
Colbert8871201
Tallapoosa7089198
Escambia6775134
Covington6713183
Chilton6645162
Russell637059
Franklin5962105
Chambers5610142
Marion5007127
Dallas4975200
Pike4796106
Clarke475784
Geneva4574127
Winston4519103
Lawrence4324117
Bibb425286
Barbour357876
Marengo338390
Monroe331564
Randolph329764
Butler326496
Pickens316384
Henry312766
Hale311688
Cherokee302860
Fayette294180
Washington251651
Cleburne247760
Crenshaw245275
Clay243368
Macon234863
Lamar224447
Conecuh186253
Coosa180240
Lowndes175364
Wilcox168939
Bullock151744
Perry138840
Sumter133238
Greene126744
Choctaw88527
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Clear cool and dry to begin your weekend, but both afternoons should be a little bit above what we expect for this time of year temperature wise. Rain chances begin to return late Sunday night, with at least two chances for storms over the next week, summer could be strong.
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