Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Education Charlie McConalogue is calling on the Minister for Education Ruairí Quinn to clarify reports of a security threat to confidential student files at secondary schools across the country.
 
According to media reports at the weekend, the Department of Education has written to secondary schools to warn them about a security breach in the software package used to store student information.
 
“The reports at the weekend raise major concerns about data protection of minors,” said Deputy McConalogue.  “Parents across the country will be extremely worried to learn that the private and personal information of their children may have been accessed by unauthorised individuals.  It is incumbent on Minister Quinn to explain how exactly this happened and what is being done now to rectify the situation.
 
“It seems that much of the problem is caused by the use of generic usernames and passwords to access the student files system and that unauthorised people have access to this.  There is also a repetition of usernames and passwords across a number of schools.
 
“The Minister for Education Ruairí Quinn has been informed of this worrying security breach.  Parents have a right to know what exactly is going on.  He now has a number of questions to answer:
 
1.    How many private student files in secondary schools across the country were compromised?
2.    Has the Data Protection Commissioner been notified?
3.    Is it standard procedure that schools would be permitted to use the same generic username and password to store confidential student information?
4.    What protocols are now in place to ensure that all confidential student information at all schools is protected?