Hundreds of school districts across the country are plagued with data breaches every year that result in student data being compromised and exploited. To combat these student data breaches, the Montana State Legislature passed HB745 during the 2019 legislative session which requires K-12 schools and associated vendors complete a data privacy agreement. The new law specifies the proper use and protection of student data while also establishing consequences for improper use of student data. This is the first effort of its kind to mandate student data protection at a state-wide level by the Montana state government.
“Unfortunately, student data is a hot commodity on the dark web,” said Brandon Vancleeve, vice president at Bozeman-based IT consultancy, Pine Cove Consulting. “Having spent more than 25 years working with schools throughout Montana to protect student data, we have seen firsthand that Montana schools are not exempt from the nationwide barrage of student data breaches. No school is safe from these breaches and we, as a community of schools, vendors, and individuals, have a duty to better handle this precious information.”
“Student data deserves and needs protection,” said Justin Barnes, Anaconda School District superintendent. “We have sought this out in our own school district by collaborating as a school with our vendors and community, in conjunction with our implementation of cyber-security mechanisms to stop these breaches from happening.“
While it is difficult to accurately estimate the number of students affected by data breaches in any given year, experts agree that the number is significant. Once the data is obtained by the wrong people it is often held for ransom or sold on the dark web to those who may pursue identity theft.