Colorado Department of Higher Education, a government-run educational institution, has disclosed a data breach incident this week, resulting from a ransomware attack in mid-June.

Without mentioning the number of people affected in this incident, CDHE said the data belonging to current and past students, teachers, and other staff had been exposed! Though the institution can recover the affected systems now, it warns the stakeholders of potential hacks due to the leak.

CDHE Data Breach Incident

In a unique ‘Notice of Data Incident‘ published on the CDHE website this week, the educational institution revealed a data breach incident last month. Admitting that it suffered a ransomware attack on June 19th, 2023, CDHE says the incident has impacted its network systems.

Further, they “took steps to secure the network and have been working with third-party specialists to conduct a thorough investigation into this incident,” read the notice. While they were able to restore systems and return to normal operations, their investigation revealed shocking facts about the incident.

CDHE noted that threat actors had access to their systems between June 11th and June 19th, which gave them access to the Department’s systems that spanned 13 years between 2004 and 2020! The affected data from these systems include about those;

  • Attended a public institution of higher education in Colorado between 2007-2020.
  • Attended a Colorado public high school between 2004-2020.
  • Had a Colorado K-12 public school educator license between 2010-2014.
  • Participated in the Dependent Tuition Assistance Program from 2009-2013.
  • Participated in Colorado Department of Education’s Adult Education Initiatives programs between 2013-2017.
  • Obtained a GED between 2007-2011 may be impacted by this incident.

CDHE said the stolen information includes full names, social security numbers, dates of birth, addresses, proof of addresses (statements/bills), photocopies of government IDs, and for some, police reports or complaints regarding identity theft.

Though the department hasn’t mentioned how many people were affected, considering the leak span from 2004 – 2020, the dump could be massive. While a ransomware gang is yet to acknowledge the hack, assume your data – if belonging to the CDHE, has been compromised. This can be maliciously used for other purposes like impersonation.

Thus, it’s advised to be vigilant of any potential attacks like phishing emails attempting to gather further information and report them to concerned authorities