Arkansas State Notified of Data Breach; Up to 50,000 Could Be Affected

Arkansas State Notified of Data Breach; Up to 50,000 Could Be Affected

The Arkansas Department of Human Services has notified Arkansas State University that a recent data breach could expose the personal information, including partial Social Security numbers, of about 50,000 individuals.

Arkansas State received word of the breach Wednesday in a database used by the College of Education and Behavioral Science's Department of Childhood Services. 

Henry Torres, the university's chief information officer, said the breach involved its database, Traveling Arkansas Professional Pathways Registry. The database is used to track and facilitate training and continuing education for early childhood practitioners in Arkansas. The registry, which tracks more than 6,000 workshops annually to train childcare workers, is a grant-funded project housed on the Jonesboro campus. 

"We have confirmed unauthorized access to data, but we have no reports regarding illegal use of the information in these files," Torres said in a news release. "We took immediate measures to address this issue after being notified by DHS."

The university says the TAPP Registry is not part of the main databases, so no student, faculty or staff records are involved in the breach, unless they have participated in the TAPP Registry. The tens of thousands potentially impacted will be notified out of caution, Torres said. 

The university said a non-active portion of the data within the database contained full Social Security numbers, and did not contain all users. Most of the database tables included only four or five digits of a Social Security number, according to the university. But the Social Security Administration has deemed that as personally identifiable information.

According to Torres, full Social Security numbers were not found in database transfer files until a recent review of database transmitted in April, and there is no indication that full Social Security numbers were included in prior transmitted date in December and March.

Torres said the university is cooperating with DHS "to assess and resolve the situation." Computer servers containing the databases were disabled, and a third-party security consultant is assisting.

Since December, Arkansas State and DHS have worked to transfer all data from the university's IT system to the DHS system. DHS is expected to take over the registry in July.

The TAPP Registry has been taken offline and will remain offline until the review is complete. 

The university has established a toll-free number, 1 (855) 363-1011, for those potentially affected to call with questions. The number will be available between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.