Since 2005, K-12 school districts, colleges and universities across the country have experienced more than 1,300 data breaches affecting more than 24.5 million records, according to a new study by Comparitech.
The study analyzed 15 years’ worth of data to find data-breach hot spots, the biggest causes of the breaches, and how many students were affected by each breach. Major findings included:
- California is a hot spot for both K-12 and college data breaches, with the most records – 2.88 million – affected. However, California is also home to most of these institutions. Arizona (2.83 million), Georgia (1.6 million) and West Virginia (1.3 million) also saw high numbers of records affected by breaches.
- Wyoming is the only state to have no known education data breaches.
- Hacking was the most common form of data breach.
- 2008 saw the highest number of education data breaches, but 2013 and 2017 were the worst years by number of records affected.
- Public institutions were affected by breaches at a higher rate than private ones.
The worst breaches were:
- Maricopa County Community College, 2013 – 2.49 million records affected.
- Harvard Computer Society, 2017 – 1.4 million records affected.
- Georgia Tech, 2019 – 1.27 million records affected.
- Washington State University, 2017 – 1.12 million records affected.
- University of California at Los Angeles, 2006 – 800,000 records affected.