BPS changes student ID badges to prevent unauthorized use after vendor loses drive containing image files
Library card numbers, MBTA access info to be reissued; BPS changes card design
BOSTON – The Boston Public Schools (BPS) is changing the design of Boston OneCard student ID badges, changing MBTA CharlieCard assignments and is changing library card numbers for students following a vendor’s loss of a flash drive that contained badge sticker imagesFriday afternoon. The vendor, Northborough-based Plastic Card Systems, is contracted to create OneCard ID badges for the upcoming school year.
None of the information contained on the drive can be used by an unauthorized person to access student records or log-in to any electronic systems. The sticker image data on the drive is limited to student names, school, age, grade, ID number, library card number, CharlieCard number and for about two-thirds of the cards, a photo. The drive did not contain any confidential student contact information, such as a home address, phone number, social security number or birth date.
BPS is sending calls and letters to families beginning today informing them of the situation and outlining our response. Families will not need to take any action and students will receive the new OneCard ID badges on schedule at the beginning of the school year. Families with questions can call the BPS Back-to-School Hotline at (617) 635-9046 during normal business hours. A fact-sheet is available here:
The drive lost by the vendor contains .pdf images that are used to print 21,054 student ID badges for students across 36 schools – which include high schools and some middle schools that span grades 6-12. Elementary schools, K-8 schools and stand-alone middle schools are not affected. Plastic Card Systems reported the company could not find the drive after picking it up from BPS on Friday afternoon. Searches Friday night and over the weekend were not successful.
“The loss of any student data by a vendor is a serious breach of protocol and we want to be sure our families know exactly what happened and what we are doing about it,” said BPS interim Superintendent John McDonough. “It is important to emphasize the information on the drive is limited to what appears on ID badges – and this cannot be used to access student records. However, we are generating new library card numbers and changing CharlieCard numbers to make sure the data on the lost drive cannot be used. We take information security extremely seriously and want to be transparent about the immediate steps we are taking to limit any impact on families due to the vendor’s loss of this drive.”
“Plastic Card Systems deeply regrets the unfortunate accidental loss of the Boston Public Schools student data files and we understand how families will be upset, as we are upset, by the situation,” said Plastic Card Systems President Don Axline. “We will make all efforts to help Boston Public Schools in addressing this situation and will assist in any way possible to quickly rectify the situation.”
Steps BPS is taking immediately include:
- Sending automated phone calls and letters this week to all affected families to alert them to the situation. Families may also call the BPS Back to School Hotline, at (617) 635-9046 during business hours if they have questions.
- Changing the design of the 2013-14 OneCard to prevent any potential misuse of the sticker image data
- Changing Boston Public Library numbers for new cardholders so barcodes on the previous badges cannot be activated. Students using existing library card numbers have already created PIN codes to prevent abuse and these numbers do not need to be changed. In addition, library staff will be trained to recognize only the new card design moving forward.
- Assigning different CharlieCard ID numbers than the numbers contained on the lost drive
- Implementing additional security and file transfer protocols to ensure data shared by the District for official purposes cannot be accessed by unauthorized individuals
- Ensuring new cards will be available in time for the start of the school year. Families do not need to take any action.
About the OneCard:
The Boston OneCard allows students to access multiple city and community services with a single card. Schools scan the cards each morning to track student attendance, the Boston Public Library recognizes it as a library card and the card is an MBTA pass.
What do families need to know?
- The drive did not contain any confidential student contact information, such as a home address, phone number, social security number or birth date. Student ID numbers, which were present on the drive, cannot be used to log in to any database or service. BPS already requires additional identity verification beyond what was on the drive to access any student record.
- BPS is issuing different access numbers and barcodes for the new cards
- BPS will offer the new OneCards to students on our normal schedule and families do not have to take any action. The cards will have a new design.
The lost flash drive contained badge sticker information for students in these schools:
- Another Course to College
- Boston Adult Technical Academy
- Boston Arts Academy
- Boston Community Leadership Academy
- Boston Day and Evening Academy
- Boston Green Academy
- Boston International
- Boston Latin Academy
- Boston Latin School
- Brighton High School
- Burke High School
- Charlestown High School
- Community Academy
- Community Academy of Science and Health
- Dearborn School
- Dorchester Academy
- East Boston High School
- English High School
- Excel High School
- Fenway High School
- Horace Mann School
- Greater Egleston High School
- Kennedy Health Careers Academy
- Lyon High School
- Madison Park High School
- Margarita Muñiz Academy
- McKinley Preparatory High School
- McKinley South End Academy
- Newcomers Academy
- New Mission High School
- O’Bryant School for Math and Science
- Quincy Upper School
- TechBoston Academy
- Snowden International High School
- Urban Science Academy
- West Roxbury Academy
The Boston Public Schools, the birthplace of public education in the United States,
serves more than 57,000 pre-kindergarten through grade 12 students in 127 schools.