Alabama Department of Education Targeted In Cyberattack

State Superintendent Eric Mackey said students and employees of the department may have been affected.

State Superintendent Eric Mackey speaks about a data breach at a press conference on July 3, 2024 in Montgomery, Alabama. Mackey said the Alabama State Department of Education had faced a cyberattack on June 17 and that they were trying to determine what information may have been compromised. (Jemma Stephenson/ Alabama Reflector)

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Alabama State Schools Superintendent Eric Mackey said Wednesday that the Alabama State Department of Education’s computer systems had been breached last month, and that students and employees of the department may have been affected.

Speaking at a press conference in Montgomery, Mackey said  the breach took place on June 17. According to Mackey, the department’s  staff interrupted and stopped the attack.

Mackey said that there “was no question” that it was a denial of service attack to encrypt and steal data so they need to be paid off, but said officials were “still assessing exactly which data were taken.”

“What I would say is that to all parents, and all local and state education employees out there, they should monitor their credit, they should assume that there’s a possibility that some of their data were compromised,” he said.

Mackey said that the department does not keep direct deposit information.

“We do have information about which data possibly could be taken because we’re able to look and see which servers they were not able to get to in the time they were in there,” he said.

A foreign agent may have been involved, Mackey said, but he said that he could not provide more information.

“I shouldn’t say I’m not aware,” he said. “I’m not able to answer that.”

According to a statement from the department, the Alabama Attorney General, the Alabama Office of Information Technology and an independent contractor are working with the department to strengthen the cyber defenses and identify which data may have been compromised.

The statement said notification will be made to relevant parties in full compliance with laws and best practices.

The Department has launched a dedicated landing site – alabamaachieves.org/databreach – and questions and comments can be sent to databreach@alsde.edu.

Mackey said that their websites will be down for “critical updates” beginning at 5 p.m. Wednesday evening for several hours.

Alabama Reflector is part of States Newsroom, a nonprofit news network supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Alabama Reflector maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Brian Lyman for questions: info@alabamareflector.com. Follow Alabama Reflector on Facebook and X.

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